Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words...

especially when those words are inadequate and fail to measure the truth of what our eyes see. But if words did have power, have you ever wondered what you could accomplish?

With that thought in mind, would you take a moment and join me in one connective thought, or for want of a better word: prayer, and send good wishes to the people of Slave Lake, Alberta.  

Now, onto Joplin...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Being A Great Blogger

If there were a sure-fire formula to become filthy rich, most of us would use it. Others might grab the pill for a perfect body, or the one guaranteed to make you a rock star. Hey, what about the authors who promise: Read my book and you'll become thinner, richer, more successful ...?

I have a slue scattered throughout my home:

How to write the best seller...

How to be thin and happy and eat everything you want...

How to be a millionnaire...

How to do yoga without killing yourself...

Recently someone asked me how they can get people to visit their blog. Someone else asked why do some bloggers get 1000 hits a day when I can only hope for 50 at best?

If you googled for the answers to these questions you'll probably already have read the 100+ articles that promise they have the answers. Or maybe you're reading this post thinking I'll answer the question for you? Sorry. I don't know why after doing everything the experts say you're still not on the Top Ten Blogger's List. 

So what do I know?

I think it takes time. I think if you write what you feel passionate about, what inspires you, sooner or later readers are going to find out about it. I think if you enjoy people, enjoy talking, listening, asking questions, sooner or later they will come. 

Meanwhile, don't worry so much about the stats, instead have fun. 

Sorry if you were looking for a pact answer. Blogging is about being part of a community. The secret isn't about how brilliant you are, how terrific your bestselling book is, or how astute you are over today's problems. It's about fellowshipping. It's about writing as if there were no tomorrow. It's about commenting on those comments. It's about sharing part of who you are.

Happy Blogging. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

My Dream Library

With today's technology, accessing any book in the world should be easy, yet, owning the library below would be a dream come true for a lot of people. You'd have to start young if you wanted to put a dent in it though.

Too many books for this overzealous, but never-quite-caught-up writer. The index system alone would do me in. What if I returned a book to the wrong place? Did I mention I'm afraid of heights?

Everyday I hear experts say that since big stores like Barnes & Noble have closed and small independent bookstore are struggling, the future holds only electronic readers and ebooks.

I disagree. As long as there are people like me who love the feel and smell of a book, the ability to bookmark, to use sticky tabs to mark for future reference, and to visit huge libraries like the one at top, novels aren't going anywhere.

But don't get me wrong. Have you seen the size of War and Peace? Thanks to my Kobo I was able to stuff it in my pocket and take it anywhere. That's why I advocate there's room for both.

By the way, the above is my Dream Library.

--happy reading

Friday, May 20, 2011


by Katherine Swarts

Ready to write your first book?

More power to you.

Ready to live in luxury from the royalties?

Time for a reality check.

I won’t waste space with a lot of statistics on how hard it really is to make money writing. That approach is not only boring and negative, it’s futile.

Everyone who conceives the perfect book expects to be the exception to the rule, the one whose genius is immediately recognized and rewarded.

Actually, the apparent “exceptions” are those writers who mix plenty of hard work with their talent—from the beginning onward. No one ever creates a perfect first draft. Don’t take my word for it; ask authors who’ve been selling books for twenty years. And ask those successful authors how many editors rejected their early manuscripts; how many times they rewrote their first books after acceptance; and how much time they still spend sending out press releases and sitting at sparsely visited book-signing tables. No, the publisher won’t “take care of everything.” If a book’s own creator doesn’t care enough to work at popularizing it, why should anyone else?

If you’re not discouraged yet, that in itself is a sign you may have what it takes. There are many resources on the specifics involved (try www.writersdigest.com and www.writing-world.com to start), but here are a few key points for key stages:

* Idea: Research why the public (not just your immediate circle) would read this book.
* Proposal: Read editorial guidelines! An amazing number of writers send fiction manuscripts to nonfiction publishers.
* Writing/editing: Get the first draft down as quickly as you like, but edit the whole thing at least three times: once for consistency of details; once for smooth flow; and once for typo-free text.
* Selling to the public: Send press releases to your local paper, the trade journals, your college’s alumni newsletter. Create a Web site and e-newsletter. Print business cards and bookmarks. Remember: even a published book won’t sell itself.
Unless you’re already famous, in which case thousands of people will buy a collection of breakfast-menu tweets if your name’s on the cover. But in that case, you wouldn’t have to bother reading “how-to” blogs.

Katherine Swarts - Margaret Swarts
Katherine Swarts is a professional copywriter and journalist, founder and owner of Spread the Word Commercial Writing in Houston, Texas. Spread the Word is certified by the Women's Business Enterprise National Council.

Since 1993, Katherine has published over 50 articles in numerous periodicals, including Carus Publishing's Appleseeds, Faces, andOdyssey; Children's Writer (on which see comments in next paragraph); and Christian Home & School. She has also prepared two anthologies for Thomson Gale.

Katherine has a bachelor's degree in English from Austin College in Sherman (TX), and a master's degree in written communications from Wheaton (IL) Graduate School. She has also studied with the Institute of Children's Literature, which publishes the monthly newsletter Children's Writer; two annual market guides; and an annual writer's yearbook.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Oprah & James Revisited

Something interesting happened on the way to the chesterfield today. A friend called and told me Oprah was revisiting James Frey. I won't go into the backstory because I'm sure you've all heard. What I learned was ... during the interview Oprah said someone she admired deeply called after the show was aired and asked her how dare she rake James over the coals the way she did. Did she think she was God? In that very moment I realized I'd quit watching her show after her first interview with Frey. Without consciously making a judgement call, I did in fact make one. I stopped watching Oprah because I felt the same way her friend did. Now I'm wondering what that says about me.

If you get a chance to view her revisit with James Frey, do. It's a remarkable testament to both of them.

Before and ..


Part two of their second interview airs today. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Connection between John le Carre' and Jim Carrey

In honour of J day... just kiddin. There's no such thing. However, if someone asked me to choose two celebrities with the initial J and to say something not commonly known about them, I'd pick Jim Carrey and John le Carre. True, both men have the initials of JC. But that's not what's interesting about them. 

Anybody watch The Dead Pool last night on television? It's a 1988 movie starring Clint Eastwood, Liam Nielson and ... (drum roll) the very young and dyamic Jim Carrey in his first non-comedic role.

Carrey's performance is outstanding, yet he's probably on screen less than 6 minutes as rock singer Johnny Squares. No mistaking just how talented this man is, even back then. I'm sure I saw The Dead Pool when it first came out, but didn't recognize Carrey because he wasn't the huge star he is today.

Warning: video isn't for the faint of heart...

FYI, Carrey was born in Newmarket, Ontario 1962. The family's original surname was Carre'.

Yes, and that brings me to my second J... (drum roll, please)... John le Carré, whose real name is David John Moore Cornwell. (born 19 October 1931).

I love the irony of it. Jim Carrey's family for whatever reasons changed their name from Carre' to Carrey, and John Cornwell chose John le Carre' as his penname. 

And now I bet you're dying to know why I connected the two. Eh! 

I was discussing Carre's work with a friend yesterday, which lead me to search for one of his many novels I have onhand. The one I chose was The Russia House. Between editing my WIP and critiquing a manuscript for a friend, I reread chapter one. 

Wonderful story. But guess what? I randomly picked page 20 and counted 8 sentences beginning with And, 6 adverbs, 2 likely, 1 just, 1 very, and more gerunds than I could count. 

If you're not a fan of either Carre' then you're probably thinking ahha! 

Yes, times have changed and those of us eliminating the many And, But, Likely, Just etc from our manuscript understand why we're doing it. 

You understand, eh?

Have a great day.
ps. Someone asked me why. For me it's because I'm not John le Carre', and until I become John la Carre' I'll be eliminating all those excess words so my meager prose are as tight as they can be. Thanks for asking. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Hopeful Sign

There's a new online magazine being launched today called A Hopeful Sign. It's about spreading hope, about making a difference. I think you'll be impressed and inspired. Hope you can check it out.


Just one tiny tidbit:

Sunday, May 8, 2011


My husband and sons are away working, but I still have much to be appreciated of this Mother's Day. Particularly the view:

 Through sheer determination and hunger, the eagle ripped his lunch from the ice. April 30th.

Nineteen years on the lake and this is the latest the ice has stayed. It's generally gone by April 25th.

Mallards swimming through the open water feels like a blessing.  

Better late than never. May 5th. It was a long winter. 

Every year you can count on somebody losing their dock.

Carmelita out kayaking on the lake is another anticipated sign of spring.

Patricia and her granddaughter are generally the first out paddling.

Mother's Day is a day to honour mothers, and I'm all for that. My mother, Gabrielle Francois Desjardins passed away October 1999. She tried very hard to live to see the new the millennium, but sadly couldn't. She was a good mother, compassionate, supportive, calm, and funny. And what a cook! During WW2 she performed for the troops with her sisters. They had a regular gig on the radio and were nicknamed The Winnipeg Lennon Sisters or The Three D's. 

Mum met dad at a dance in Winnipeg and fell head over heels. She gave up her career, moved clear across the country, and raised 3 children while my dad was off seeing the world. He stayed in the Navy after the war.

My mother dedicated her life to us. Our needs were more important than hers and were always met. Today when I see the word MOTHER, she's still the first person I know who epitomizes everything mothers stand for.  I miss her.

I hope you're able to spend today with your mother, or to at least talk to her. If it not, I'm very sorry.

However your situation, here's hoping the day is everything you want it to be. Happy Mother's Day everyone!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ask PZM May 2011

Q: With all the changes in the entertainment industry (such as movies available to download via Facebook) and in the publishing industry (such as imminent demise of Borders), what do you think the future holds for book authors? 

A: The one thing we can be sure about is that, with all this change happening, there will be major impact on what opportunities book authors have for the extension of books beyond traditional publishing or self-publishing.

The April 21st Wall Street Journal had the article “Cheapest E-Books Upend the Charts” by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg.  The article began:

“The nation's largest book publishers are facing increasing pricing pressure on the digital front as the number of cheap, self-published digital titles gain popularity with readers seeking budget-minded entertainment.

“Amazon.com Inc.'s top 50 digital best-seller list featured 15 books priced at $5 or less on Wednesday afternoon. Louisville businessman John Locke, for example, a part-time thriller writer whose signature series features a former CIA assassin, claimed seven of those titles, all priced at 99 cents.”

Perhaps the most important information in the article is how Locke isn’t interested in New York publishing houses.  Currently he can decide for himself what and when to publish, something that probably isn’t an option with a New York publishing house. 

But he has hired a literary agent “to field movie offers and deal with foreign publishers interested in releasing his books overseas.” 

Based on the information in the article, I plan to use Kindle Direct Publishing for my novel adaptation of two screenplays about Lt. Commander Mollie Sanders that I wrote with my husband (see www.molliesanders.com).  I want to try an experiment publishing this only on Kindle and see what happens.  (I first have to finish the adaptation.)

Here is one very important thing we all need to be aware of whether we self-publish, publish with a small publishing house or a large publisher:

We need to keep as many of the rights connected to a book – present and future – that we possibly can.

If delivery platforms are changing practically at the speed of light, as authors we want to be able to take advantage of these new platforms.  And even in self-publishing we may not have all the rights we think we do. 

I self-published my novel “Mrs. Lieutenant” through Amazon’s BookSurge, which is now folded into Amazon’s CreateSpace.  I thought I kept all the rights myself.  But do I have the right to change the Kindle price to 99 cents?  (I’m in the midst of finding this out.)

Whichever way you publish your books, be sure to read the contracts very, very carefully.  (A lawyer who specializes in book contracts is probably a good idea.) 

You don’t want to discover that a new delivery platform has been developed but you can’t take advantage of it because you gave away the right that would have allowed you to do so.

O brave new world!

© 2011 Miller Mosaic LLC
Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the social media marketing company Miller Mosaic.  You can learn about her fiction and nonfiction books at her Amazon author page at http://budurl.com/PZMAmazonpage
Mrs. Lieutenant is now available on Kindle for 99 cents: http://budurl.com/MrsLTKindle

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Bronze Award from Count Sneaky's Journal

Dear Grandpa, owner/operator of the wonderful blog: Life on the Farm has bestowed me this classic Award:

I love awards. Thank you, Grandpa!

If you would like to know more about Grandpa, please visit his blog and read the most enchanting tales about the tropical rainforest at the foot of the Malaysian mountain range. As Grandpa puts it, "Take a break, come over and join me for a cuppa, and stay a while, will 'ya -- coffee, tea, chlorophyll, s'il vous plait."

To learn more about the Bronze Award, check out its creator: Count Sneaky and his journal: Moral and refined, unique, and eccentric entertainment for Ladies and Gentleman of all ages...  I'm particularly impressed with his many tidbits of wisdom. Here's a few:
A thing of beauty may not not be 
a joy forever...but the payments will seem to last forever
Write...and the world laughs, cries,
and thinks with you.

Now it is my pleasure to pass along the Bronze Award to someone who has only just begun to blog, but who has been a consistent positive force in my career. Thank you for all you do, Vicki. 
Check out V. L. Smith's new blog at:  Turning Medieval. Life and matters literary from the perspective of an historical novelist in Central Pennsylvania. Vicki's just starting out, hasn't got a whole lot to say yet, but mark my words, if you like history, you must bookmark her site. 

Have a great day. 
ps. Vicki raises show dogs.