Monday, 15 September 2014

Celebrating Readers and Writers in Muskoka at the NorthWords Literary Festival…

Something for Readers! Something for Writers! If you haven't visited the NorthWords Literary Festival website, I urge you to check it out to see what's happening Oct 3-5 in the heart of Muskoka:  http://www.northwords.org/. Launching the festival are 17 exciting Canadian Authors gathering for seven events in addition to the full day Writers' Workshop. This is the 4th year for NorthWords and the first time it is held in Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada.

All of the authors will share from their work and experience in ways that will be of interest to both writers and readers. Seventeen published authors in one place is an incredible opportunity to learn about your craft from those who have faced the same struggles I have when I sit down at my computer to weave my tales.

This festival is also designed to entertain book lovers with the opportunity to speak with those whose stories transport readers to other times and places!

Here’s the weekend line up:

Friday, October 3:
Writers’ Workshop with authors, Anne Lazurko and Michael Wuitchik. Plus an agent panel discussion with Rachel Letofsky (The Cooke Agency), Olga Filina (The Rights Factory), Monica Pacheco (Anne McDermid & Associates Ltd.)!   9 am – 3 pm

Pitch Sessions: Looking to get your work in front of an agent?  Here’s your chance! Register to book a session with one or more of three agents!

Wine & Cheese with the authors, Anthony De Sa and Terry Fallis, 6:30 pm – 9 pm

Saturday, October 4:
The Saturday Morning Funnies - Richard Scrimger and Jim Foster will entertain you over Breakfast, 9 am – 11 am

Conversation with four debut novelistsKrista FossAli Bryan, Janet Turpin-Myers and Anne Lazurko as they share lunch and the excitement of their first novel publications. 12 pm – 2 pm

Mid-Afternoon Chat with non-fiction authors, M.G. Vassanji and Patrick Boyer, 3 pm – 5 pm
  
Gala Dinner with novelists, Michael Wuitchik and Craig Davidson, 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
  
Sunday, October 5:
Breakfast with Novelists, Michelle Berry and Catherine Bush as they share their literary journeys, 9:30am – 11:00 am

After Breakfast with Authors, Claire Cameron, Glad Bryce and Diana Aspin, 11:30 am – 1 pm


If you’re interested in attending this literary event, please see http://www.northwords.org/our-events/event-registration/  for event pricing and registration. So, if you’re in or near the area, please plan to attend. You won’t be sorry to rub elbows with some of Canada’s finest authors! Cheers!


Monday, 8 September 2014

What Every Author Should Know…

Feeling overwhelmed when it comes to publishing and promoting a book? Are you getting lost in the crowd? Relax. Take a breath. Release it. By focusing on these key areas, you can find the traction your book needs to rise above the crowd.


Understand the Publishing Industry: Writing a book does not guarantee you readers—believe me, I know! So before publishing, ask yourself some important questions. Who are your competitors? What do they publish? How is your genre faring in the industry right now? Knowing your market is vital to finding and connecting with readers, receiving book reviews, and getting book sales.

Book Covers are Key: Pick up a book or view a thumbnail-size cover online. What’s your first impression? Is the cover unprofessional or tacky? If so, chances are you’ll think the writing is sub-par. It’s a smart move to invest in a professionally designed cover by someone who understands book design and the publishing industry. You've put a lot of work into writing your book; apply the same philosophy to your book cover.

Your Best Marketing Tool is Editing: With all the competition out there, you want your book to be the best you can make it. A poorly edited book will not gain you readers, reviewers, or fans. Delegate to the professionals if you must, but don’t put out a book that’s destined to receive one star nods.

Get Good Advice: Honestly, there are so many reputable, free resources available to authors for every phase of their publishing journey. Blogs, social media groups, online forums, and more offer everything an author can imagine to get headed in the right direction. Take advantage of these resources, ask questions, learn from others, and share your insights.

Work Your Market: Cultivate readers via the social media, not by clogging the internet with spam, but by asking if they’d be interested in becoming a beta-reader for you. Many authors have successfully built a stable of pre-publication beta readers who offer their insights. Don’t forget, beta readers are not editors—they help an author understand if the story works, if it's authentic.

It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint: If you're going to publish a book, you have to be in it for the long haul. It takes time to learn the publishing ropes and build a following. Approach your marketing and promotion with the long-term in mind. Basic formula: Time + Backlist (4 or more books) = Sustainable Author Career.

Website 101: Build a respectable sales hub through your website. Unless you know how to convert web visitors into buyers, and know all about web conversion and SEO, you should find a professional to design your site.

Build Relationships: Saying thank you goes a long way. If you guest blog, thank your host. Are you getting book reviews and interviews? If so, be sure to thank them for taking the time to review your book or interview you because these are people you can approach for your subsequent books. Trust me, kindness and manners matter, and people DO notice.

Teamwork 101: If you're hiring people to help you publish and/or market your book, take advantage of their expertise. Look for someone with a good track record, and who understands the market, then trust their advice and let them do what you've hired them to do.


Publishing is a business. In the end, it’s worth the time to invest in your book, your team, and your promotion. Thank you for reading my blog. If you have time, please leave a comment and share what you’ve been doing to get your book in front of your readers. Love to hear them! Cheers!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Guest Post by MG Author Gita V. Reddy: Does Social Networking Help Sales?

“You have to,” my friend told me, when I explained that I found all the networking difficult. “You have to put yourself out there, and connect with your readers.”

“Won’t an advertisement about my book do?”

“No. People want to know about you, and what makes you tick.”

“Who are these people who want to know about me even before knowing about my existence? I am practically unknown.”

“That’s your fault.  The least you could have done was to have your own blog.”

“What will I blog about?”
                              
“Anything. There are any number of things you can write about. You could start with your secret recipe of prawn curry.”

I knew this was my friend’s way of getting at the recipe which was guarded by my family like a state secret.

“I write for children, for middle graders. How will a food blog sell books?”

“Mommies are fond of food blogs and mommies decide what their children should read.”

What my friend said seemed logical but I was not keen on blogging, it would eat into my writing time, and I wanted to make up for the twenty-six years when I had not been able to write because of my day job.

“Join a book forum,” my friend suggested. “You love books, and you love discussing about them.”

“But I can’t discuss my own books!”

“They usually have a folder for self-promotion.”

Three months later I told my friend, “It isn’t working. I have posted in more than ten groups but haven’t made a sale.”

“Just posted? You should take part in the discussions, contribute, and network. No group likes people who only peep in to wave a poster.”

I grumbled, “No group wants authors. Just look at the names of the folders! Shameless Self- Promotion! Pimp your Stuff! They should welcome us because the relationship between a writer and a reader is symbiotic.”

“You are a struggling writer, not a writer. You are like a salesman with a new product so you should hawk your wares. You should be on facebook, twitter, Google+, etc.”

Convinced, I started posting and tweeting about my books, myself, and my cat. My friend had a huge following and he helped me build one too.  My posts spread like ripples.

A month later, when I was going through the latest tweets, my friend dropped in. “What are you doing?” he asked.

“Checking to see which ones to retweet.”

“Are you reading them? You don’t have to. Just retweet and spread the word.”

“Don’t you read the tweets?”

“A few. I just retweet most of them. That is what everyone does.”

If what my friend said was true, most of the social networking I had done had ended up as statistics. The number of ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’ were just numbers. But my sales had shown some improvement, I’d made some new friends and had had some good laughs.  And the pundits swear by it.

My book, Cinderella’s Escape, is free on all Amazon stores on 5th, 6th, and 7th September, 2014. Please share, re-tweet this post.

Author Pages:


Please connect with me through my website, facebook page, and twitter (@GITAVREDDY)

Gita V. Reddy is a writer of fiction for children and adults. She enjoys thinking up tales of different genres. She has written mysteries, adventure, science fiction and even an animal tale for childrens.
Ms Reddy was born in India, is a post graduate in Mathematics, is married to a physics professor, has a son doing research in neuro-electronics and loves literature!

Her other interests are painting and writing poetry.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Meet Middle-Grade Author James Gordon...

I want to thank and welcome middle-grade author, James Gordon for sharing his personal writing journey with us on my blog today. His featured book, Hi, My Name is Bobo: A Weekend in the Life of a 5th Grader can be purchased from Amazon, and other on-line bookstores.

How long have you been writing, James?

I have been writing since 2007, published first book in 2009, The Confessional Heart of a Man.

 Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write Hi, My Name is Bobo: A Weekend in the Life of a 5th Grader?

A friend of mine mentioned to me that I had not written a book that his children could read. So I decided to take two weeks and write Hi, My Name is Bobo.

What sets Hi, My Name is Bobo: A Weekend in the Life of a 5th Grader apart from other books in the same genre?

Bobo is different because the main character is African American. Unlike most children's books, there isn't one central message. However, Bobo exemplifies the innocence and hopeful excitement that a young man should have when dealing with school, first love, etc.

 As a children’s author, what is your writing process?

Not much a process really. I do pull pictures and watch programs to put me in a youthful mindset.

How long did it take for you to start and finish Hi, My Name is Bobo: A Weekend in the Life of a 5thGrader?

It took two weeks to write, have edited, and complete Bobo.

Do you have any advice for other writers striving to write in your genre, James?

Make it special and real. Children and their parents need new adventures to go on. So write on....

What’s next for James Gordon the author?

I have a top secret project that I'm working on and will be released soon. 

Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series—If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?  

I would like to go back to various junctures in history when people were harmed and reverse those instances.

Bio: James Gordon is the award winning author of Hi My Name is Bobo (A Weekend in the Life of a 5th
Grader). He hails from Chicago Illinois. As G.P.A.(Greatest Poet Alive), he has written five other books of Poetry. James can be seen in the movies (Persian Version and Animals) and TV (Chicago Fire and Chicago PD). He can be found on Twitter at gr8estpoetalive.

Buy link:


Connect with James on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HimynameisBobo

Monday, 25 August 2014

Guest Post: Why Author Jan Flores Walks Shelter Dogs… Part 2

Everyone is emotionally touched by an animal at some point in their lives. For me, having a dog in the house since the day I was born forever cemented canines in my heart. Some people have had terrible experiences with animals, while others can’t live without one. If you’re thinking about getting a dog or cat to add to your family, then I urge you to adopt a pet from your local animal shelter. You’ll not only help an animal in need, you’ll receive something we ALL need—unconditional love.

 And now, without further ado, part two of Jan Flores’s heartwarming tail, er tale…

Things have changed at the shelter where I volunteer as a dog walker. It now has a Behavior and Training Department, whose members evaluate the dogs that come in to determine if they have any medical and/or behavior problems before advancing them to the adoption floor. But when I first started, it was just me, the dogs, and a slip lead (For those who don’t know what a slip lead is, it’s a long piece of material about half an inch wide with a metal “D” ring at one end. To use it, you thread the end through the ring, forming a circle that substitutes as a collar. The “slip” of the lead means that it can be adjusted to any size dog).  In those early days, I quickly learned that it wasn’t so simple as: put on a leash and go.

I chose to work with the clinic/hospital dogs instead of those already up for adoption because they seemed to be most in need of help and attention. They didn’t know where they were, or why their family had left them behind in a strange place.  I wasn’t a familiar face, but I could be a helping hand, letting them know—for the brief time I was there on my volunteer day—that they weren’t alone.

It was an experiment for both of us. In those early days, I had no way of knowing when I entered a kennel what I was about to face. Some dogs “shut down” in depression and turned away; others became aggressive because they were uncertain and scared. But most were so glad to see me that they almost vibrated with excitement.  A leash, a leash, we’re going for a walk! I could see it in their faces, and it makes me smile every time.  Their joy at such a simple act almost makes me forget why they are here. Almost.

It was a shock to learn that only a minority of the shelter dogs are strays (at least in our shelter); the majority have been brought in by owners with various excuses (see Part I) about why they can’t  keep the dog any longer. But one justification I’ll never understand, is “We just don’t want him anymore.”

How can you not want a dog who has been a faithful family member for years? How can you throw him away for someone else to take care of just because he has silver around the muzzle, or cataracts in his eyes, or limbs crippled with arthritis? To see such a dog watching his former family walking away without looking back is simply gut-wrenching.

I always pay special attention to these old dogs. The look in their eyes just breaks my heart.

On a brighter note, here are some of the special dogs I’ve met at the shelter:

HOLLY:  (so named because she was found in a parking lot at Christmas). We never knew what happened to this white, bright-eyed little Maltese cross—whether it was abuse, or being hit by a car—that caused paralysis in both hind legs. I admit to mixed emotions when they fitted her with a canine version of a wheelchair. It seemed so unnatural to me. But when I saw Holly’s joy at being able to race around—sometimes on one wheel—I had to admit that, for her, it was the right prescription.

 LEO: a small boxer cross that came from Mexico with what appeared at first to be a tumor the size of a small grapefruit under his chin. I won’t go into the medical details this dog suffered; suffice to say he became one of the most loved because of his resilience, determination, and sheer refusal to lose to a deadly disease.

STEVIE: a black, blind terrier cross with eyes that looked like silver coins. He was found wandering on a busy thoroughfare. It was a miracle he wasn’t killed. The shelter vet reluctantly determined that it was too late to restore his vision, but he didn’t let his blindness stop him. Whenever he heard the jingle of a harness and a leash, he whirled in circles, eager to go outside for a walk.

CHANCE: a beautiful 25-pound American Eskimo, with the blackest eyes and a blindingly white coat (once he’d had a bath to wash away the street grime). He had many physical problems, but he didn’t let that stop him. Sometimes he just wanted to sit with my arm around him while we watched the world go by.

FLOWER: an abused pit bull with so much potential. Black with a little white on her chest; eyes gleaming with intelligence. We worked hard getting her aggression under control so she could be adopted, only to have her returned in a semi-crazed state with no explanation about what had happened. Despite our best efforts, she quickly developed “shelter stress”, and even though it was the best thing for her, it was a sad day for us all when she was put down. Such a loss for a dog who had tried so hard.

ABBIE: an extremely shy Aussie, with a beautiful “Autumn” coat. She would retreat to the opposite of her kennel and shake when anyone tried to get near her, but with a lot of patience we brought her out of her shell and into a new life.

BRIE: another Aussie. She had to have her front leg amputated because her owner left a home-made, too-tight bandage on and left it on too long, destroying the circulation in that leg. She was a brave and uncomplaining girl who just wanted to be loved. That’s what we gave her—until her new family came along, fell in love, and adopted her.

There are so many more that I could go on and on. They pass through my mind like a fancy shuffle, with the cards falling in a waterfall, moving so fast I can’t see the faces. But I know they were there, and I believe I did my own small part in helping them. What they did for me—and continue to do—is more than I can say.

Janis Flores was born in Montana, and raised in Colorado and California. After graduating from college, she received her license in Medical Technology, married Ray Flores, and they moved to northern California—she to supervise a laboratory, he to establish his horseshoeing business. She found time to take a class on the short story, but instead wrote her first book—a Gothic suspense titled HAWKSHEAD, which was subsequently published in hardcover by (then) Doubleday and company. Thirty-four novels—from historical to contemporary mainstream—followed.

SWEETER THAN WINE, published by Musapublishing.com, is her first ebook.
The award-winning TOUCHED BY FIRE has now been reissued in ebook form.

Both titles can be found at:

SWEETER THAN WINE:

TOUCHED BY FIRE:

You can find Jan on her website: www.janisflores.com

On Twitter: @JanisOFlores

Monday, 18 August 2014

Guest Post: Why Author Jan Flores Walks Shelter Dogs…Part 1

Animals are near and dear to my heart. In 2007, I had the privilege of working at our local animal shelter. From this experience I got an idea to write a book for my Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls series—a young adult teen psychic series—now in the hands of a few reputable traditional publishers via my agents at Walden House (Books & Stuff). It was through my love of animals that I met fellow author and kindred spirit, Jan Flores, who I found loves our furry friends just as much as me. Jan has had some wonderful experiences, especially with shelter dogs, and I asked her if she’d be so kind as to share them with you. Take it away, Jan…

Five years ago, I walked into our local animal shelter and changed my life forever.  It wasn’t easy. In fact, volunteering to walk shelter dogs was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  I know that will probably sound silly to a lot of people: after all, what’s the big deal about walking dogs? Put a leash on and go.

For me, it wasn’t that simple. Blessed (or cursed) with a writer’s super-active imagination, I didn’t know what would be waiting behind the reception desk, locked away out of sight of the public. I pictured rows of dogs in wire kennels, unloved, unwanted, dropped off by owners who abdicated responsibility because the dog was sick, or old, or injured, or ill-mannered, or just something to be thrown away because it was, after all, only a dog.

I’ll admit it: I was anxious—scared that I’d make a fool of myself by bursting into tears as soon as I saw the dogs; sure that I wouldn’t be able to turn away from all those sad faces, begging for rescue.  I was positive I’d have nightmares about frightened and confused dogs, who didn’t understand what had happened to them, or why.

Then I saw a poster that made me feel like a coward, writing checks to assuage my conscience, donating money instead of time so I wouldn’t have to see what I didn’t want to know. The poster showed a dirty, skinny little dog with a huge chain hanging from a studded collar around a neck that looked too frail to hold it up. I couldn’t look away from the depth of pain and hopelessness I saw in that dog’s eyes. The caption under the picture read:
 
You might not be able to help all the lost dogs in the world, but you can help the one in front of you.

That day I walked into the shelter and volunteered to walk the dogs.

Janis Flores was born in Montana, and raised in Colorado and California. After graduating from college, she received her license in Medical Technology, married Ray Flores, and they moved to northern California—she to supervise a laboratory, he to establish his horseshoeing business. She found time to take a class on the short story, but instead wrote her first book—a Gothic suspense titled HAWKSHEAD, which was subsequently published in hardcover by (then) Doubleday and company. Thirty-four novels—from historical to contemporary mainstream—followed.

SWEETER THAN WINE, published by Musapublishing.com, is her first ebook.
The award-winning TOUCHED BY FIRE has now been reissued in ebook form.

Both titles can be found at:

SWEETER THAN WINE:

TOUCHED BY FIRE:

You can find Jan on her website: www.janisflores.com

On Twitter: @JanisOFlores

Monday, 11 August 2014

Save Atlantis. Save the World... with MG author Mikey Brooks

Book Review: The Gates of Atlantis: Book 6 Battle for Acropolis by Mikey Brooks...

Magic is dying. And it’s up to 13-year-old Talon and his foster sister Hattie to save magic…and Atlantis at the same time. Oh…my…Poseidon! Brooks had me hooked from the get-go. This middle grade read is the sixth book in The Gates of Atlantis series, and it doesn’t disappoint your taste buds if you love adventure, fantasy, and fair play. Brooks has created a world where magical beings, human animal hybrids, and humans come together to save not only Atlantis’s fate, but Earth’s fate as well. Non-stop action and plenty of surprises are the main ingredients to this well done story. Whether you’re looking for your next book series to read, or a new author, Battle for Acropolis may just be your ticket to a world that will put a smile on your face, and take you on a journey you’ll never forget.

Here’s the Blurb:
Thirteen-year-old Talon is in trouble…again. He didn’t mean to burn down the school library. It just happened. Things like that always happen to Talon. His life is a mixture of the weird and bizarre. No one else he knows can shoot fire from their hands or cause an earthquake…but he can. Every night the same dream haunts Talon: the destruction of an underwater city. He hasn’t a clue what it means but he feels like fate is trying to warn him. It’s not until he runs away with his foster sister Hattie that he discovers his trouble-making powers and strange nightmare are connected. Together they are the key to saving magic…to saving Atlantis.

And… here’s my Endorsement:
Things are not what they seem in Mikey Brooks’ Battle for Acropolis, the last installment of The Gates of Atlantis series. And trust me—it’s a GOOD thing! Kids of all ages will love this fantastical adventure that will make them believe that in coming together and acting as one, we can accomplish great things. Well done, Mr. Brooks!

~ Sharon Ledwith, author of The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis

About Mikey Brooks:

Mikey is a small child masquerading as an adult. On occasion you’ll catch him dancing the funky chicken,  ABC Adventures: Magical Creatures and Bean’s Dragons as well as the middle-grade fantasy-adventure series The Dream Keeper Chronicles. His art can be seen in many forms from picture books to full room murals. He loves to daydream with his three daughters and explore the worlds that only the imagination of children can create. Mikey has a BS degree in English from Utah State University and works full-time as a freelance illustrator, cover designer, and author. As a member of the Emblazoners, he is one of many authors devoted to ‘writing stories on the hearts of children’. He is also one of the hosts of the Authors’ Think Tank Podcast. You can find more about him and his books at: http://www.insidemikeysworld.com/.
singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of several books including the best-selling