Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Enjoy the show!
As a field radio operator, Lloyd Lofthouse was a walking target in Vietnam in 1966. He has skied in blizzards at forty below zero and climbed mountains in hip deep snow.
Lloyd earned a BA in journalism after fighting in Vietnam as a U.S. Marine. Later, while working days as an English teacher at a high school in California, he earned an MFA in writing. He enjoyed a job as a maitre d’ in a multimillion-dollar nightclub and tried his hand successfully at counting cards in Las Vegas for a few years. He now lives near San Francisco with his wife, with a second home in Shanghai, China. Lloyd says that snapshots of his life appear like multicolored ribbons flowing through many of his poems.
This link takes you to Lloyd's 'Vietnam Experience' page filled with photos. He took many of them. Since Lloyd still has to edit the photos so they load faster, this page may load slow for older computers.
This link will take you to a media piece from a Southern California newspaper that Lloyd copied and posted on his Website that will give you an idea about his teaching years.
If you are interesting in learning more about Lloyd's teaching experience, you are welcome to read about it at AuthorsDen. 'Word Dancer' is a memoir of the 1994-1995 school year. He kept a daily journal that year. He is using that journal to write 'Word Dancer'. Everyday, when he arrived home, Lloyd wrote an entry in that journal. It sat on a shelf in his garage for fourteen years gathering dust. Spiders moved into the binder and built a nest. After all those years, Lloyd forgot he'd written it. When he was cleaning the garage, he found it again. Lloyd started reading, remembering and writing. Everything he writes in 'Word Dancer' happened. He's using a primary source as his guide. Memory may be faulty, but a daily journal written the day an event took place is as accurate as it can get from the author's point-of-view.
Accomplishments: Lloyd's short story "A Night at the Well of Purity" was named a finalist for the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards.
As a teacher, Lloyd found satisfaction in the number of students that published nationally and internationally while attending his English and journalism classes.
You can visit his website at www.mysplendidconcubine.com.
Driven by a passion for his adopted country, Robert Hart became the “godfather of China’s modernism,” inspector general of China’s Customs Service, and the builder of China’s railroads, postal and telegraph systems, and schools, but his first real love is Ayaou, a young concubine.
"Love for ones wives' sister is typically forbidden by most Western religions, but the most successful Westerner in Chinese history is faced with this conflict. "My Splendid Concubine" is the tale of Robert Hart who deals with matters of his lust and how to deal with them the Chinese way, which so conflcit with his upbringing. The Taiping Rebellion doesn't help matters, him making enemies of established and skilled mercenaries in the process of protecting his interest and the women he loves. "My Splendid Concubine" is packed cover to cover with intriguing characters and plot, a must read for historical fiction fans and a fine addition to any collection on the genre."
--Midwest Book Reviews
"What makes this story something other than a cliched period piece is the fact that Lofthouse drew his narrative from fragments of Hart’s own diaries which Hart himself was supposed to have burned before his death. Hart was a prodigious correspondent, and the 40 odd volumes of letters he left behind became a foundational document for modern Sinologists-including John King Fairbank-who sought reasons for modern China’s highly problematic entrance into modernity.
If even half of Lofthouse’s narrative is true, it’s a stunning work that enmeshes imperialism, modernity, miscegenation and plain old desire in a sweaty matrix of destruction and painful birth."
--City Weekend Magazine
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
My journey into the world of fiction started in 2003 when I originally wrote Bleach. I would go on to self-publish this book and promote via press releases and email. During this time I also wrote many short stories that found their way into literary journals and online writing communities. A couple of these stories found their way onto Silverthought.com. In 2004 I wrote my second novel, Corporate Porn, and was fortunate to be considered (and chosen) as part of the first books published by Silverthought Press. To promote Corporate Porn, postcards where printed and distributed, I promoted via online channels (blog, MySpace, etc…), and also coordinated a book signing.
During this time I also started writing a sequel to Bleach, later to become Blackout, and published through Offense Mechanisms, an imprint of Silverthought Press, in April 2008 as a double novel (complete with topsy-turvy covers). For promotion this time around I have focused very heavily on online websites featuring authors, promotion through my website (http://www.davidsgrant.com), and approaching local bookstores, introducing myself, and gauging interest on selling my books and/or hosting a signing isn’t easy, but necessary. Most books will not be sold through bookstores, but it’s still important to make your work available whether through purchase or consignment basis.
Online I have utilized the social network MySpace as well as the writing social network Author’s Den. My website (http://www.davidsgrant.com) serves as a portal to all of my works (publisher websites), reviews, articles, and contacts. Craigslist and EBAY are two additional online avenues that are free and allow authors to sell their work to a much larger audience than would typically be available through traditional channels.
I have found much success through Pump Up Your Books virtual (online) book tours. I am currently on my third virtual tour (this is one of the stops!) and am able to promote across multiple channels via interviews, reviews, and articles.
My next novel, Blood-The New Red, is scheduled to be published in 2009. I expect to utilize many of the areas I have used in the past as well as build on the network I have created and create new opportunities.
Thank you for having me. I do believe anyone that reads Bleach|Blackout will enjoy themselves. The humorous story, littered with pop culture throughout, will have you knee deep in the characters addictions before you know it. Thanks again. -David
About the Author:
David S. Grant is the author of Corporate Porn, published by Silverthought Press in 2006. David's first novel Bleach and sequel titled Blackout are now available through Offense Mechanisms, an imprint of Silverthought Press. Also, newly published in 2008 the novel The Last Breakfast and short story collection Emotionless Souls through Brown Paper Publishing. David lives and works in New York City.
About the Book:
Fans of fluffy romance novels and that all-too-familiar, over-hyped, edge-of-the-seat crap should steer clear. This is life at its most jaded. Offense Mechanisms is proud to present Bleach | Blackout by David S. Grant, two novels about drugs, sex, revenge, the corporate crunch, and the inevitable unpleasantness of life and death.
You can visit David's website at www.davidsgrant.com/ to read an excerpt!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
TOUGH LOVE, TENDER HEART, though not my first published book, is my first published novel. It’s the story of Don Fisher, a middle-aged misfit—just about everything has gone wrong in his life—who finally meets the sort of woman he’s given up on ever meeting. This happens while he’s on vacation in Venezuela. The woman, Ana, is Colombian, working as a waitress in Caracas, and while the two don’t exactly have a storybook romance, a child is conceived during Don’s vacation. He doesn’t learn this until he’s back in the States, but from that point on his energy is directed toward marrying Ana and bringing her to live in the US. Little does he realize the obstacles US Immigration is about to put in his path.
As to the road TOUGH LOVE, TENDER HEART and its author traveled en route to publication, it’s been long, bumpy, and often uphill. But if a writer writes about what he knows … from his own unique perspective … he’ll end up with a book no one else could have written. Whatever else happens, he’ll have something to be proud of … and I am proud of this book.
I plan to be around for the long haul doing whatever it takes to carve out a significant writing career. I appreciate every little step along the way, and I appreciate every little bit of support I get. For information about TOUGH LOVE, TENDER HEART or about Steven Verrier, visit stevenverrier.com, and drop me a line telling me what you think about this book.
Advice? Develop a thick skin. Be The Little Engine that Could. There are few successful writers that couldn’t paper their walls with rejection letters. Whatever your long-range plans may be, set little goals along the way, and be patient when even the tiniest steps take far longer than you’d imagined. And, of course, grit your teeth and be ready to outlast every obstacle you face.
Steven Verrier, born in the United States and raised mainly in Canada, has spent much of his life living and traveling abroad. He is the author of RAISING A CHILD TO BE BILINGUAL AND BICULTURAL (a prizewinning book published bilingually in Japan) and various short dramatic works for the student market. His first novel, TOUGH LOVE, TENDER HEART, was published in the summer of 2008 by Saga Books. Currently he is living with his wife, Motoko, and four sons in San Antonio, Texas. You can visit his website at www.stevenverrier.com.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Allen Drury won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1960 with his book Advise and Consent. He went on to write many other novels, science-fiction and non-fiction before his death. Allen was a frequent visitor to Puerto Vallarta, and we became friends. Allen used to tell me, “Jenny, you have a book in you. Keep notes.” I would tell him that nobody would believe it, even if I did write a book. His response was always, “Just keep notes.”
I kept notes, or rather copies of reports I made on the more far-fetched cases. I retired from my position, but I kept that bag of notes for about ten years. And then one day I decided to clean some of the clutter from my life, so I burned the notes. That is when I got serious about writing a book.
Unlike Dr. Roberta Islieb, author of Preaching to the Corpse, I didn’t do enough researching about publishing, literary agents or editors before jumping into the frying pan. I was eager to get my book out there. I sent out a few queries. I couldn’t say I was devastated by the number of rejection slips I received. I was never even sure my query was received, so I don’t know the feeling of dejection.
I was introduced to a retired literary agent who agreed to read my manuscript and give me tips. She corrected the name of the town where she lived and told me, “One of the first things you should know is that you never bind a manuscript!” She told me literary agents like to lie in bed at night and read, throwing page by page aside as they are read.
The only reason I had bound it was an editor friend of mine had offered to read and give me suggestions. I used up a ream of paper printing out my cherished manuscript, only I called it My Book, not a manuscript. She started reading it and wrote me that she went to bed with a smile on her face and woke up laughing the next morning at the antics described on the pages. She laid my work on the night table. The cat came along and knocked it to the floor. She couldn’t put it back together in order again. I had not bothered inserting page numbers. I knew in what sequence they should be read and I figured that job was up to the printing company.
I trusted spell check on my computer, but since I was working with a keyboard configurated in Spanish and I was typing English, I decided it should be proofread. The retired literary agent had suggested that my husband read the manuscript out loud to me so I could hear how it read. He reads very well so we gave it a try. He read; I changed text around. He read and I caught some errors and he caught some. I re-typed and we both read again. Once we were absolutely positive there were no typos or misspells, we were ready to share with the rest of the world.
I knew several authors who had successfully self-published, and I thought maybe that was the way to go. I knew a young man who had been visited by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents when he was a kid because he had hacked his way into some high security files in Washington, D.C. I promised him I would never divulge his true identity or whereabouts if he would design the book cover and he agreed.
The first edition was a success. The Senior Editor of Mexconnect.com, the one whose cat knocked my unnumbered pages off her night table, came to the fancy book signing held in the luxurious seaside Villa Verano. The retired literary agent came to help her collect money from the sale table. Many of my characters wandered through the gardens and became reacquainted; some of whom had not seen each other in twenty-five years. I was Alice in Wonderland.
And then someone pointed out that I had misspelled Colombia, not once, but twice. Be careful of the automatic correcting toolbar. It seems that some of the chapters were in a different font size. Paragraph formatting is very important, I discovered.
As I was going through the throes of birthing Drama & Diplomacy, some of my friends suggested I would be able to write a How to Write a Book when I finished. They were wrong. Drury was not around to guide me, but I talked to him on a daily basis. John Huston was not around to encourage me on, but the man who wrote his biography, An Open Book, was. William Reed, author of Rocks & Shoals: Memoir of a Navy Mustang and the Cuban Submarine Crisis, Mexican Odyssey, and Huston’s bio encouraged me to revise and publish the second edition, which I have done. It has been edited by two editors.
My secret tips are do what any good writer should do, not what I did. I’m working on a historical novel, which I may self-publish, but I think I would go with Publish on Demand. I would still confer with my thug book cover designer. I would number the pages and not bind the manuscript. I would still ask my husband to read out loud to me, but I would find six or seven or more proofreaders, and DEFINITELY ask my editor to put my manuscript in, and not on, the night table.
Jenny McGill grew up in the
Jenny and Howard, moved to
Upon retirement, the McGills sought out the tranquility of the western Sierra Madres in the small
Sunday, November 23, 2008
by Jackie Lee Miles
My agent is shopping my latest manuscript and let me tell you the waiting is killing me. As a matter of fact, just this morning I noticed my hair is definitely grayer than it was last week.
When she first sent it out, we got an immediate response from a major publisher and boy was I excited. They raved about the author voice and the premise. They asked if the author had another book that could be packaged with it. Then they took it to committee, whatever that means, and the next thing you know they were saying things like, “It’s not for our list after all.”
Bummer. I felt like dumping my head in the washing machine while it was on the spin cycle. That got me thinking about all the authors out there that now have N.Y. Times bestsellers. Did they ever want to stick their head in the washer? I’d call them up, but I don’t have there numbers. Plus they’d think I was crazy so I’d probably just tell them how much I enjoyed their book and not mention their washing machine.
Maybe placing a project is so frustrating because of the way I first got published. I went to this book conference. At the reception I literally bumped into Ron Pitkin, the president of Cumberland House Publishing. He was kind enough not to notice I spilled his drink and asked what I was working on. When I told him fiction, he promptly replied, “That’s a crap shoot.” Definitely not what I wanted to hear. I mean, I’d paid good money to come to this conference and he’s raining on my party, big time. “Well,” I said, “that’s too bad, because I have a dynamite opening line.” I was prepared to walk away, when he gently took hold of my elbow and said, “So what’s your opening line?”
“The morning I died, it rained.” Keep in mind this was long before The Lovely Bones.
“God! I want to see that book,” he said, doing an about face.
“Ah, I don’t have a book,” I said. “I have a great opening line and a hundred pages.”
He asked if I had it with me. “Of course. I’m getting it evaluated in the morning. It costs forty-five dollars.”
He told me to give it to him, he wouldn’t charge a thing. I immediately went to my room and brought back the pages. I had a prologue, and the last chapter and the epilogue along with the rest of it. It wasn’t finished, but I knew where it was going.
Mr. Pitkin thanked me and went on his way. Come Sunday morning with the conference over, everyone was checking out. I spotted Mr. Pitkin making his way toward me and thought, oh-oh, this is where he’s going to pull the rug out from under me and tell me to get a real job. To my surprise he handed me the manuscript and said, “I want this and I want it yesterday. Go home and finish it!”
I figured if I took forever to finish it he’d never even remember that he liked it. I stayed up and wrote around the clock for the next five days, took the weekend off, stayed up again and wrote around the clock for the next five days and sent it off to Mr. Pitkin. I marked my calendar for three months, thinking it might take that long for him to get back to me. I started in on my second book. Just like all the books on writing said to do. The following Friday evening my phone rang. I answered. A voice said, “This is Ron Pitkin at Cumberland House and we’re going to bring your book out in hardback.” I said, “Ya? And I’m the tooth fairy.” And I hung up on him. The reason I did this is that the only person other than my husband who knew I’d sent off the manuscript was a good friend of mine who can mimic any voice he’s ever heard. He’d been going to this conference where I’d met Mr. Pitkin for years and has heard him speak many times. It had to be this friend playing a joke on me. Not a very funny one either. I wasn’t amused.
I went upstairs to comb my hair and put some lipstick on. My husband was starving and wanted to go and get something to eat. Poor thing, he probably was starving. I stopped cooking when the kids left home and I took up writing. No sooner did I get to the bedroom when the phone rang. This one has caller ID, the others don’t. I leaned over and saw CUMBERLAND HOUSE flashing on the screen. I’d hung up on Mr. Pitkin for real!
I picked up the handset, leaned into it and barely whispered “Hello?”
“What’d you hang up on me for?” he said. “Ah, it’s a long story, a very boring story,” I said.
“Well, we’re bringing out your book in hard back and bumping back our memoir piece on Dale Earnhardt (he’d been tragically killed), to make Roseflower Creek the lead book. What do you think of that?”
I was hyperventilating and finding it impossible to speak. I did my best. “Didn’t you say fiction was a crap shoot?” I asked
“Yes—and it is,” he said.
“Then I think your crazy or my protagonist got herself a miracle. What do you think of that?”
Mr. Pitkin laughed and said he’d be seeing me. This is a true story and a pretty amazing way to get published. I should have known there’d be rocky roads ahead. It brings to mind the old adage if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Oh well, maybe after the storms pass, I’ll find a rainbow. One can always hope. In the interim I’ve got everything crossed, including the hair on my husband’s head—all three strands.
Jackie Lee Miles is the author of Roseflower Creek, Cold Rock River and the newly released Divorcing Dwayne. Dear Dwayne debuts April 1st, 2009. Visit the website at www.jlmiles.com. Write to Jackie at Jackie@jlmiles.com
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
A second secret that I might share relates to the fact that if you’re going to get into the writing game, it’s best to come with a portfolio. A portfolio that shows that you are capable of doing what you claim you can do. That portfolio can include examples of ones technical writing, if you’ve been a technical writer, short stories if you are a short story writer, or writing for a local newspaper, or your fraternity or sorority newsletter, for example.
Aside from those two tips, I’m not certain that I have any other secrets of value.
Robert Greer is the author of the mystery novel, BLACKBIRD FAREWELL. You can visit his website at www.robertgreerbooks.com.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
For me, it's all about networking--connecting with fellow writers and taking advantage of the little opportunities that have come my way. I've learned not to sneeze at little opportunities. It's amazing how the so-called coincidental contacts I've made over the years have opened doors to opportunities I never would have found on my own.
My best advice is to stay connected, meet people, exchange business cards and ideas, and take advantage of writing opportunities--even if they look small at the beginning. You never know what doors might open.
Joanna Bloss is co-author of GRIT FOR THE OYSTER: 250 PEARLS OF WISDOM FOR ASPIRING AUTHORS. You can visit her website at www.joannabloss.blogspot.com.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
The book started with what I thought would be a sure-fire hook. I ran across a Time Magazine article about the famous televangelist Pat Robertson and the avaricious relationship he had with Mobutu Sese-Seko, the dictator who raped the Congo for over thirty years. When I found out that Robertson, the founder of the 700 Club and one-time Presidential candidate, owned a diamond mine in the Congo—probably operated by near-slave labor—I felt I had to write Heart of Diamonds.
A couple of years later, I had a finished manuscript and it was time to take it to market. I wrote a query letter, drew up a list of agents who handled this kind of high-concept commercial fiction, and started making submissions.I had been through this process before, so my expectations were very realistic. I knew it would take an almost endless stream of submissions until I happened to hit the right agent at the right time in just the right way.
I stopped counting submissions after the first 200. It was obvious from the replies that 90% of the agents didn’t bother to read my letter, much less consider the book. I had used several different versions of the query, followed every set of rules for submission, and still couldn’t raise any interest.
Still, a handful of agents requested sample chapters and a couple even asked for manuscripts, so I experienced occasional glimmers of hope. The most important thing, I knew, was to never give up.
While I was looking for prospective agents online, I ran across a new publisher, Kunati Books, who said they accepted non-agented work and were looking for edgy, provocative fiction. That description fit Heart of Diamonds perfectly, so I followed their online submission instructions to the letter and crossed my fingers.
In the meantime, though, I didn’t sit back and wait for an answer. I kept up my search for an agent with more queries. Before I became a writer, I had a long career in sales management, so I knew perseverance was one of the most important elements of success. I devoted an hour a day to researching, preparing, and sending out queries.
Several weeks later, Kunati requested a complete manuscript. Again, I responded quickly, being careful to send them exactly what they requested in the form they wanted. The deal wasn’t closed, though, so I continued to send out queries.
Finally, about six months after my initial submission to Kunati, I got a phone call from Derek Armstrong. We talked about the strengths and weaknesses of Heart of Diamonds, how it could be marketed, and how much time and effort I could devote to promoting it myself in complement to Kunati’s efforts. An offer was made and accepted contingent on acceptable contract terms.
During the next couple of weeks we went back and forth over some contract details and I had an attorney who specializes in intellectual property law look it over for me. I signed the contract, the advance was paid, and the first part of the journey was over. Heart of Diamonds was on its way to bookstores.
Dave Donelson is the author of the romantic thriller, HEART OF DIAMONDS. You can visit him on the web at www.davedonelson.com or www.heartofdiamonds.com.
Dave Donelson, Heart of Diamonds, Romantic Thriller, Kunati Books, book publishing secrets, book publishing, book promotion, online book promotion, virtual book tour, blog tour, virtual blog tour, book blog tour
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
OK. The story of how I was published.
About twelve years ago, when I was a stay at home mom with two small children, I sat down and started writing my first book. I wrote a sentence at a time until those sentences became paragraphs and those paragraphs became chapters. I didn't stop to think about the market or anything else except writing a book that I would want to read. I guess in the back of my mind I figured I'd want to sell it at some point, but it never occured to me to think about the logistics.
It seems simple and naive, and it probably was. But I'll tell you that those years (yes, I said years--it took me about 3 years to write and edit that first book) were some of the most fun writing days of my career. There's something to be said about being contracted for your writing, but writing without a contract (and its inherent deadline) can be a freeing and wonderful experience.
I joined a national writers organization, Romance Writers of America and their local chapter, Georgia Romance Writers, knowing that my book wasn't really a romance but not really knowing what to call it. It didn't matter, because RWA was, and still is, a welcoming environment for all writers, as well as a wonderful source of knowledge and comaraderie. RWA puts out a terrific monthly magazine for all members filled with valuable articles and information---as well as writing contests sponsored by RWA chapters all over the country. I started entering a lot of these contests--always looking for those that had published authors as judges since, I figured, they'd be the ones most qualified to tell me whether I should give up my day job or not.
I entered one where not only were the finalist judges published authors, but the finalists for each category were going to be sent to a top literary agent in New York. I didn't have any such lofty hopes as finaling--I just wanted the written critique by two published authors. In the end, I wound up not only finaling in my category, but winning it, too. That top New York literary agent liked the manuscript so much that she offered to represent me. She sold that book and every book since then and is still my agent.
So that's my story. I will, however, add the caveat that despite a quick start and being in a place now that I love, my career path hasn't been so fast and easy. I've hit road blocks (including being dumped by my 2nd publisher) but in the end I find that I've learned something at each bend in the road--and that to be a career writer you have to KEEP WRITING, regardless of how steep that mountain in front of you looks!
White’s protagonists face everything from a leaky roof, old fountains, and cracked cornices to overgrown flowerbeds, paint chipped ceilings, disintegrating plaster and warped floorboards. For herself she saved the best. Her research included luxurious strolls on the streets of Charleston, sampling and choosing restaurants such as Magnolias, Gaulart & Malicelet, Cru Café, Blossom and Anson for her characters to enjoy. Rumor has it she also did a bit of shopping at RTW on King Street and spent an afternoon on the Battery visiting White Point Gardens. Relishing the architecture and choosing among Victorians, Federals, Colonial Revivals, Queen Anne, Dutch Colonials and others, along with the amazing range of colors and appointments, Karen eventually placed the house at the center of her story at “55 Tradd Street” in the downtown historic district and, inspired by an actual house on that street, imagined it as a Federal style single family home.
Italian and French by ancestry, a southerner and a story teller by birth, White has moved around quite a bit in her life. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, she has also lived in Texas, New Jersey, Louisiana, Georgia, Venezuela and England, where she attended the American School in London. She returned to the states for college and graduated from New Orleans’ Tulane University. Hailing from a family with roots firmly set in Mississippi (the Delta and Biloxi), White notes that “searching for home brings me to the south again and again.” She and her family now live near Atlanta.
It was love at first sight when White first visited Charleston and South Carolina’s lowcountry in 1995. She says it was “inevitable” that she would set several novels in the area, as she did with 2005’s The Color of Light, which Booklist praises as “an accomplished novel about loss and renewal.” Three years later, she returned to the there with The Memory Of Water and, now, to Charleston with THE HOUSE ON TRADD STREET. Her love of the southern coast shows no sign of abating. Her next novel, The Lost Hours (May 09) is set in and around Savannah.
Karen White’s work has appeared on the South East Independent Booksellers best sellers list. Her recent novel The Memory of Water, was the Borders Books and Atlanta & Company’s Book Club Selection for May, topped off at the end of the month with their live, television interview with Karen. The Memory of Water, which is well reviewed in Atlanta Magazine and an array of other print and online book media, and was adopted by numerous independent booksellers as a book club recommendation and as a featured title in their store. It’s been back to press five times since its March 2008 publication, the first time within its first four weeks on sale. It is one of NAL/Accent’s fastest selling titles.
Adding to the excitement of The Memory of Water’s March 2008 debut, was the resounding, continued recognition achieved by White’s 2007 novel Learning to Breathe. This spring Learning to Breathe was honored with a National Readers’ Choice Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Virginia Romance Writers HOLT Medallion. It was also named a finalist for the Romance Writers of America’s Award for Best Novel, the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence and the Georgia Author of the Year Award.
White credits years spent listening to adults visiting in her grandmother’s Mississippi kitchen, sharing stories and gossiping while she played under the table, with starting her on the road to telling her own tales. The deal was sealed in the seventh grade when she skipped school and read Gone With The Wind. She knew—just knew—she was destined to grow up to be either Scarlet O’Hara or a writer.
In addition to THE HOUSE ON TRADD STREET, White’s previous novels include Learning to Breathe, Pieces of the Heart, and The Color of Light.
You can visit her website at www.karen-white.com.
Karen White, The House on Tradd Street, New American Library, southern women's fiction, guest blogger, virtual book tour, blog tour, virtual blog tour, online book promotion
Friday, November 7, 2008
As to how to get published is concerned…the easiest way is to pay the publisher. Some folks like this method and even make a little money. In my case I felt if my work was good enough, I’d eventually find an agent and they would find me a company that would want to print my book. Finding an agent has changed considerably in the last thirty-four years—it’s much harder now—and even when you find one, they may not sell your manuscript. I’ve had two agents and they sold exactly nothing for me. However, I haven’t given up on them. I'm trying to get one right now.
To get published your must have infinite patience and be willing to face the hundreds, maybe thousands of rejections that you will surely get. Keep plugging away at it and someday, if you live long enough, someone will like what you’ve written.
If you can find a qualified person to edit your material and I don’t mean a hired-gun; I have reference to an acquaintance or friend, a person who truly likes your writing and admires your work, he/she can furnish the fuel to fire up your engine and keep you going in weak moments when you feel low enough to slide under a snake’s belly. This kind of human being is difficult to round-up, but you will meet them…IF you keep writing.
If you’re writing to get rich, I would encourage you to give it up and get a real job. Most of the people I see writing now-a-days are doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs. People like this certainly don’t need any help from a grammar school graduate like me. My words are written to lighten the load of the poor soul who’s writing because he has something to say. Always remember Hank Williams said he got his inspiration for his songs from comic books because they represented life as he saw it.
Good luck and God bless you. May you road be smooth, and your path downhill with the wind at your back. Oh, yes…you’ll need a warm coat. Winter is on the way!
Suspense/Mystery author Richard Roach was born in 1931 in Galveston, Texas. Short stories of his have been published in Man’s Story 2, Happy 2007, Vol. 20 and Bibliophilos 2006, Vol. 42. His first novel, Scattered Leaves, hit the book stores on September 1, ’08, and his second novel, Scattered Money, will be published in 2009. You can visit his website at www.richarderoach.com.
Scattered Leaves, Richard Roach, suspense, mystery, virtual book tour, blog tour, blog book tour, online book promotion
Thursday, November 6, 2008
To this day when I start writing a new book, I focus on my characters first. All (even the secondary characters) have full back-stories, quirks, talents, strengths and weakness. Though you may not ever see it in the book, I know where they went to school, favorite foods, Myers-Briggs personality test scores, and even their zodiac signs. Only when I’ve gotten to know my characters do I start thinking about the plot, which I design to play to the characters’ strengths and weakness.
My latest book DEAD RINGER was one of those rare books that just kinda came together. This wasn’t just blind luck (well, there might be a touch of that) rather it was because I knew my hero and heroine so well. By the time I sat down to plot the book, I could tell you so much about Jacob and Kendall. The plot played on and used their fierce independence and different backgrounds to create constant tension and conflict.
Want to hear a confession? When a story isn’t going well and feels flat, it’s because I haven’t done my homework on my characters. Even after fifteen novels and four novellas, I still read books on characterization and attend workshops about character development.
So when you sit down to work on your latest book, ask yourself if you really know your characters. I can guarantee when you get acquainted with your hero you’ll find that your story really starts to pop.
Mary Burton confesses to a baking addiction and a fascination with the people who hunt serial killers. The former is genetic. The latter began during the twenty years that the Southside Strangler, D.C. Sniper and the Hampton Roads killers stalked her home state of Virginia. These killers terrorized residents and claimed twenty-six victims before their capture
Why did they kill? What demons drove them? How did they choose their victims? Burton’s questions led to inspiration and the USA Today best selling author began developing the characters whose horrific assaults would drive the plots of her romantic suspense novels I’M WATCHING YOU and DEAD RINGER.
Her commitment to realism in her writing has led to eye-opening interviews with local law enforcement, forensic seminars and the firing range. She is a graduate from the Henrico County Citizens Police Academy and attended Sisters in Crime’s three day Forensic University program.
A Virginia native whose family’s Richmond roots run as deep as the nation’s, Burton graduated from Virginia’s Hollins University and began a career in marketing. After a decade she decided to do something about the myriad stories buzzing around her brain, which seemed to dare her to try to write them down. She took up the gauntlet, left her job and began her first novel. That very first manuscript, a historical romance, was published in 2000.
The world of serial killers seems like a far cry from that book, a western set in the Colorado of 1876, and it is. Yet Mary notes that “the dark side of life is always just beneath the surface for all of us,” including in fiction and, in that first book, the protagonist flees a rapist and escapes to a new life. “For that story the crime was merely a plot device.” Now, crime and the destruction it creates are integral to her stories. “I’m exploring the power of premeditated violence and how it changes my characters’ lives.”
Placing a romantic relationship side by side with the story of a serial murderer may seem daunting, but as Mary says “life goes on despite us and—especially in the face of horror and loss of control—it’s important to me to show the resilience of human beings, who somehow, someway eventually find hope even under drastic circumstances, who continue to believe that good can conquer evil, and who still can’t help falling in love.”
As a reader and writer of suspense novels, Burton sees a link between intense, unforgettable real-life emotions and the allure of fiction dealing with crime and relationships.
“I think it’s beyond the appeal of police procedures and forensics and the untangling of a mystery. People have long used fiction in all forms to safely face real life horrors. With fiction, they are in control. They can stop the story at any time. They can appreciate and try to understand the characters’ motives and emotions, experience the commitment of those trying to stop the killing, touch as much or as little of the fear as they want, and be comfortable knowing the atrocities aren’t real. They can even afford to have some empathy for the killer. Through it all, they’re confident that justice—so often elusive—will be served.”
After selling her first novel, Burton wrote eleven more books for Harlequin and four contemporary romantic suspense novels for Silhouette before entering the dark world of multiple murderers and their motives. Once there, she wrote her romantic suspense novels I’M WATCHING YOU and this November’s DEAD RINGER, both published by Zebra Books. Her novella Christmas Past appears in the 2008 holiday anthology SILVER BELLS along with stories by New York Times best selling authors Fern Michaels and Joann Ross, and award-winning novelist Judy Duarte. Previously her story Snow Maiden was featured in the USA Today best selling anthology A Hero’s Kiss.
Born and raised in Richmond, Mary Burton is an avid cook as well as baker, and even volunteered as a kitchen assistant at a local culinary school to hone her skills. When not writing and researching she can be found hiking, doing yoga and playing with her miniature dachshund puppies, Buddy and Bella. Currently, she is working on her next novel.
You can visit her website at www.maryburton.com.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Of course, I suppose it also doesn’t help I don’t write for the mainstream audience either. I am graphic, use coarse language, and write dark poetry. In 1999, I submitted a poem entitled, ‘The Midnight Express’. This was for the fun of saying, there I did it, now I can move on.
A small time magazine got a hold of the poem, and paid me $20 to go ahead and publish the poem. I went ahead and purchased the magazine, now years out of print, just to hold a copy of something in my hand that my name was on, outside of the school newspaper. I thought I was pretty good at that moment, and submitted the same poem to the International Library of Poetry. They were great for stroking my ego, and as long as I paid them $60 for a hard cover book, I too could enjoy the benefits of being featured in one of their collections.
They were the hard way of learning, that in the literary world, not everyone wants to be your friend, some are out there to take advantage of others and stroke their egos enough to lure them into a fantasy world, where money is shelled out to a frivolous end.
I continued to move forward though, and I continued to churn out poems and short stories to publications. I had plenty of poems get published over the years, and oddly 13 short stories. Most of what I wrote, I told while it was good, it would not appeal to a general audience. Again, it was too dark and graphic, and controversial. I took a stab at writing poetry from a loving stand point, and although, I don’t feel a part of me was in it, it turned out to be a bit more successful than what I previously had written. It was at that time I realized, I will still writing, but not where my heart was. If you sacrifice your soul to find happiness, you find out you end up with pain and regret.
So I folded my hand, and cashed in my chips. I was thankful for all I had learned through the journey, and I took that away with me. I started to write ‘A Death at the North Pole’. I killed off Santa Claus and tormented his family and friends with a vengeful female cop. Instead of going mainstream, I went independent. I knew it wasn’t something a publisher was going to print, it was violent, killed an icon, and was brutal and graphic. I loved writing it, and I received some great positive response to it.
But one thing still baffled me, when a recording artist goes independent it is great, they are showing courage and strength. When a writer goes independent, they are considered a hack, and talentless. Some of the best authors I have read have been independent authors, not following a mold is a very powerful thing.
The point that I am making, is don’t rule out independent publishing to get your feet wet in the publishing world. If you got something you believe in, chances are other people will take an interest too. The work is harder, but the pay off is greater. You get the blood, sweat and the tears of the whole process. You get a chance to find your soul, and take a stronger sense of pride in your work.
Joel M. Andre was born January 13, 1981 in Cottonwood, AZ. He began writing back in 1994 on a personal level, discovering the passion and feeling the words brought him. Although more of a hobby at the time, he collected his works and in 1999 released the poem The Midnight Express. It received positive feedback, and was quickly followed by For the Salem Witch. To date Joel has released over 60 poems, and 3 books.
Pray the Rain Never Ends was the first book, which includes the poem he wrote for his nephew Christopher Andre. A gripping work that shows a different side to the creator of work that usually holds a darker flair.
The follow up book A Death at the North Pole brought a new side of Joel out. This was a dark journey through a winter wonderland, and provided a more in depth look at Joel and his long form writing.
Most recently Joel released the book Kill 4 Me, a technological ghost story, of a woman haunted by a vengeful spirit through the use of a cell phone and computer.
With a passion for writing, you can tell Joel loves what he does. Although some would say his imagination runs more left field, there is no denying his original thoughts and ideas will provide enjoyment for years to come.
You can visit his website at www.joelmandre.com.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Yeah, I’m lying. I did none of that.
But I do admit I was tempted to do something wacky. I knew that half the time, queries languished in the slush pile without ever having been read. I knew there were gazillions of other writers in the same boat I was in, and we were all competing for the same agents. There were rumors of agents receiving hundreds of submissions a week. If I did something wacky, someone would AT LEAST notice me. What if I let my creativity fly with the query process? Cookies, tchotchkes, singing telegrams!
Well, I’m sure most of you have more wisdom than I did when I entertained these ideas. You’re probably all aware that if you do something wacky, you tend to be known as a wacko. Fortunately, unaccountably, I did nothing drastic. I clung to the notion that if I proceeded with dogged professionalism, things would work out. Oddly enough, they did.
In the beginning, I read several books about the publishing process so I could get as much perspective as possible. This was a good move—I learned a lot. I also read message boards and got a sense of how other writers were doing. I then followed the industry conventions and wrote query letters. I think I sent out about four or five. Of those, I received two rejection form letters and the others just sort of vanished to the wind.
At this point, though I was willing to write a million letters if need be, it dawned on me that I might learn more if I got face time with other writers and discussed ideas and experiences. To do this, I attended a few conferences. This turned out to be the most brilliant move of all. Not only did I meet lots of writers at these conferences, but I also met agents and editors. I learned how to pitch in person, and I learned how to zero in on those who were possible matches for my work. Some of the editors and agents requested my material, and when I sent it to them later, the fact that they’d requested it meant I had a much better chance that they’d actually read it. The odd thing was, after meeting these people at conferences, I realized that they really were, well, people. They’re people who are sometimes overwhelmed by tons of nervous writers vying for their attention. I found that I was most successful when I was relaxed, friendly, and above all, professional. And the beauty of it was, I was making so many contacts at the conferences that I actually had choices. I didn’t have to follow-up with anyone I didn’t like.
The first real nibble came from an editor—one from a major house. I even went so far as to do some re-writes based on that editor’s request. At the same time, another editor I’d met at a different conference was also interested, as were three agents. I’ll tell you what: agents take much stronger notice when you’re already in talks with an editor or two. I wound up signing with an agent who was my absolute top choice.
In the end, I didn’t make deals with either of those two original editors. Fortunately, however, the leverage I gained from their level of interest did help me to sign with the agent, and he went on to sell my first novel.
So I’d have to say that my original publishing success came from a combination of networking, diligence, and luck. It took me about two years from the time I started looking to the time I actually I signed on the dotted line with my agent—and another year before I actually had a publishing contract. But as agonizing as that period was, I learned so much about the industry, the process, and the craft that I wouldn’t shorten that timeframe even if I could. And most importantly, I resolved to focus my creativity where it matters most: the story.
Sienna Skyy comes from a long line of storytellers, and from the moment she learned to speak she began telling tales of her own, many of which were reflections of the beautiful city where she lived. She got her start by exploring lyricism in the form of song, and was inspired the combination of literary fantasy and rock music that was prevalent in her early years. (Nowadays they call it classic rock.) She believes that art and music and literature are different forms of the same wonderful thing. She also believes that knights exist today though they’ve stopped wearing shining armor, and that magic is waiting just beyond the surface of the things we see. Sienna Skyy lives in Gotham City, and is surrounded by animals, of both the human and non-human variety. She is currently working on the next novel, Otherworld Quest.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Getting books published was a daunting task! I ran the gamut of queries to big and small publishers, big and small agents although I have to say I never get a good feeling about focusing on an agent for some reason. I think it's because I just didn't want to restrict where I could my work.
Then a few years back a book publisher accepted my first book, Gifts Of The Spirit. The publisher was PublishAmerica and therein began the nightmare. No aspect of the contract was honored including assistance with placement in bookstores. The discount to bookstores was also prohibitive so bookstores would not purchase copies. In addition, there was no returnable policy. All of these detriments meant one thing: I was not able to get my book in bookstore. The book was online but, with a no return policy interest waned. Then there was the royalty: forty-nine cents one quarter! How could this be? After all ten per cent of $19.95 was $1.91 per book so how could a royalty be forty-nine cents? Incredible. Add to this that the book's pricing was also more than for a standard paperback trade book.
Soon, I connected with other writers who had also been led down the primrose path by PublishAmerica. We organized and began a campaign to get out of our contracts which PublishAmerica was unwilling to do. After a year of coordinated press releases urging the public NOT to buy our books, articles about the fraud that had been perpetrated and even television appearances by myself and another author we were all suddenly released and in the same month! This was absolutely necessary in order to pursue other publishers with our books. We won.
Three of my books had then been accepted by a small publisher and then after some months, the publisher folded. The thought of doing all the letter writing and proposal sending all over again to the possible end of finding another publisher of the same cloth of PublishAnmerica was something I simply did not have the patience to want to do.
Encouraged by the successes of Dan Millman, best selling author of "Way of the Peaceful Warrior" which was self published and the success of my friend and contemporary Janet Elaine Smith who is a bestselling author and self published I chose the self publishing route.
The truth is many authors are choosing this venue and I believe it is a movement for creative control over what is written rather than assuming one can only be recognized if "published."
The truth is big and small presses are inundated with so many queries, proposals and manuscripts I believe most of them are never even looked at. This is my personal opinion. Secondly, there is nothing wrong in investing in yourself and your work much as one would invest in a business venture in which there is confidence.
The world of publishing has changed and so has the breed of writers who are less dependent on the parochial conventions that used to measure success. Today's writer has more confidence in themselves and their product.
I chose Star Publish LLC for my publisher and I have not regretted it. Like all publishing houses you do need to research who you are considering as some are on the par of PublishAmerica which some of my colleagues have shared.
I do not regret self publishing. I am pleased with the quality of my book and the turnaround time from submission to availability is very quick which frees me to work on other projects without continuing the time consuming and often frustrating task of trying to submit as I have before.
I know my work, I know I am excellent and I deserve to be in control of my own career.
To view my book trailer, please visit quantum spirituality.tripod.com and my blog: something magicalinourmists.blogspot.com
Cate is a published author, GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT, as well as a syndicated columnist in the spiritual and metaphysical genres. In addition she is a published print columnist in
Friday, October 10, 2008
Laura Grossman graduated from Lehman College with a degree in English literature and won several awards from poetry contests. She has attended poetry readings and has enjoyed positive feedback on her work.
You can visit her website here.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
I started by sending it to the publishing houses and watching it be rejected because I didn't have an agent. There must have been at least 50 rejections and most of the places hadn't even read the manuscript. They all said "Get an agent."
So I started trying to find an agent. This alone was time consuming and frustrating. I finally succeeded by going to a writers conference in New York and I ended up with an agent. And after a year of having her, she still hadn't even read the manuscript. So I fired her and kept searching. I went through several who didn't have the time they needed to help me. Then I found an agent in Anchorage, Alaska (we live in Alaska and this, I decided, would be handy) The only reason I got him was because I had an offer from a very big person in Hollywood to make my book into a movie (his mother is a well known movie star) and I needed an agent. So this Anchorage agent signed me immediately. Long story short here...the hollywood guy wanted to change the end of the book...instead of a success story, he wanted to make it a tragedy. This didn't sit well with me because this was MY story and a success. We argued over that fact, but in the end, I never signed the contract...I also lost the agent.
I had gone through half a dozen agents, before deciding once again, to try it on my own. In the meantime, I kept writing and I listed a short blurb about "Waltz" online, with the hopes that a publishing company would see it and want to publish it. Within a month, an agent emailed me, telling me she liked the idea of the book and would like to see the whole manuscript. She added, if she liked it, she'd represent me. Well,I was done with agents, but this was really what I waiting for! I remember wondering if she really was a legitimate agent. I mean, why was she searching the internet for books? There must be an awful lot of writers who sent her stuff. Still, after waiting a couple of days and weighing my decision, I decided to try it. It was the best thing I've ever decided to do! I sent the manuscript to her and she read the entire book in one evening, and immediately emailed me with a contract and the news that she would represent me with anything that I wanted her to represent. She also had me write a script for the movie.
The long and short of this is she got it published, and it didn't take her long! It came out in February 2004 and is listed on Amazon and represented around the world! Less than a month after the acceptance of "Waltz With Me, Alaska," I received more good news from her . A second book (also non-fiction) had also been accepted by another publisher. It was printed in April 2004...less than two months after "Waltz."
I still don't know what happened ...just that it did happen. I'd gone through agents, gone without agents, went to writing groups and conferences and even have a writing group which I head. Nothing had worked at all. My secret, it seems, is when I finally gave up and decided whatever was to be would be...that's when it all happened! And however it happened, I'm glad it did.
Waltz With Me, Alaska is the compelling true story of Dick and Donna Bernhardt who leave their Anchorage home and build a log cabin in the Alaskan wilderness to raise their family. Unable to complete the cabin before winter, a thirteen month struggle to survive in an old army tent with no conveniences and no neighbors ensues. Temperatures drop to 70 below zero. Every day is perilous, but peril and hardship are great teachers. The family works, loves, laughs and cries together while surviving the winter, completing their log cabin and living happily ever after.
Donna started out writing poetry...in the second grade! She kept on writing poetry throughout her schooling and into her married life. She used to send a poem to her husband in his lunch every day. Time marched on and they found themselves moving from Anchorage and living in the woods of Tok, Alaska. This is where her writing took off. She wrote a poem about the way they were living at the time...in a tent in the wilds of Alaska, and her hubby secretly read it and took it to the editor of the local newspaper. The people of Tok enjoyed it so much she was offered her own poetry column (which 32 years later she's still writing). She produced some small books of poetry. Ten years went by and she continued writing and speaking to the buses in Tok, reading from her books and meeting people.
Then her husband died suddenly and she still had kids to raise. She couldn't work in any capacity due to the injuries she suffered in a truck wreck, so she borrowed money and put together a few more books, and sold more and more of them, enough to make a decent living from them and put the kids through school, becoming known as the Poet Laureate of the Alaska Highway. She met reporters and TV people alike who would come to her tiny cabin to interview her. She was on Paul Harvey, and interviewed by dozens of people including Peter Jenkins and appeared on TV and many of the nation's papers and was included in several books.
Donna advanced to writing a small childrens book or two and a couple of recipe books in addition to the poetry books and small non-fiction books. She then decided to write screenplays and larger non-fiction books. She wrote a screenplay about their "tent" winter and six or seven more. But her non-fiction books are her prize possession. Although it took her a long time to see them published, she now enjoys the sales of her latest two: "Waltz With Me, Alaska" and "Pioneer Road." Donna's website can be seen at http://www.alaskawintercabin.com.