Sunday, July 31, 2011

Book Giveaway Winners

The winner of my tribute to Veronica Bourne Cole is:

Congratulations, Hilary, you've won an autographed copy of Dead Witness. Please email your address to cluculzwriter at yahoo dot ca and I'll ship a copy to you as soon as I can.

Congratulations, Donna, you've won an autographed copy of Broken but not Dead. Please email your address to cluculzwriter at yahoo dot ca and I'll ship your copy to you.

This felt so good, I've decided to draw two more names for an autographed copy of Dead Witness, 
and the winners are:

Brenda Ewashina Shevolup and Lindsay Brant-Brumwell

Congratulations, Brenda and Mama. Email your address to cluculzwriter at yahoo dot ca and your autographed copies will be in the mail soon. 


In fact, this was such a lift that I've decided to hold another draw during Blog Jog Day, August 7, 2011. I hope you'll all come back and try again.
Thanks for helping me honour my mother-in-law, Veronica.

Yes, that's her real hair. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Book Giveaway

In honour of my mother-in-law Veronica Cole and in appreciation of my followers, I'm giving away a copy of my first suspense thriller Dead Witness and my newest release Broken but not Dead.

Thank you to everyone who attended Broken but not Dead's book launch at Books & Company Saturday July 16th, two days after Veronica passed away. Yes, it was difficult time for the family, but our friends made it special. Thanks, everyone.

 The Cluculz Lake contingency: L-R: Ralph Butler, Roy Spooner, Carmie Webster, Betty Danroth, Bev Winter, Tim Timmerman, Anne-Marie Spooner, Jo Timmerman and Marion Davis.

Speaking in front of anyone isn't in my comfort zone, but those attending were wonderful. They even laughed at my jokes.
Local reporter Allan Wishart attended

My dear friends Donna and Carmie
Lots of books to sign

and sign...

and sign. Yahoo!
It was a wonderful day. Thank you, Nicole!

The rules are simple: leave a comment and if you're not a follower, click on JOIN THIS SITE on the right hand side. Specify which book you'd like, Dead Witness or Broken but not Dead, then check back on Saturday, July 30 to find out if you're a winner. Thanks for your support!

Remember, you have to be a follower for a chance to win a book.

Rest in peace, grandma.

Blog Jog Day is back, August 7, 2011. Check out the details at

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Even Fiction Needs Fact

All good fiction makes readers feel as if the story is really happening. Here's how to research the facts that make for realistic fiction.

Bad news if you think research is for term papers: fiction writers don’t get off. Getting facts straight is essential for every story setting, from colonial America to a modern police department.

Fortunately, there’s more to research than sneezing your way through library stacks:

1. First, know what you need. What don’t you know about the real-life version of your setting or character? Besides technical matters, consider background details: What do firefighters talk about during down time? When did the Beatles release that song? Make a list of things to check, especially anything that affects the plot.

2. Hands-on experience is the best research. If your protagonist will go to Chicago, go there yourself. If he’s famous for cheese soufflé, bake some soufflés. Don’t try to store everything in your head; take copious notes. Read a few issues of National Geographic to see how experienced writers weave in the details.

3. “The horse’s mouth” is second best. If you can’t work in your protagonist’s career or visit your story’s location, talk to people who have. For technical questions, interview experts—preferably using a tape recorder. Don’t leave your notebook at home, however. Jot down nonverbal details: your interviewee’s dress and gestures; the smells that fill the atmosphere; the sources of background noises.

If you don’t know any experts, colleges and universities are good places to look. Or ask a librarian for Web addresses of reputable “find an expert” sites.

4. Primary sources come next. For settings more than sixty years past, living witnesses may not be available. The records they left—the “primary sources”—are the next best thing. Don’t stop with “published” material; read diaries and letters. Ask local librarians about “archives”—even if the public library has nothing, it can direct you to museums and historical societies.

Primary sources do reflect the biases and misconceptions of their cultures, and your most admirable characters will be products of their time. So study your sources carefully to pick up the “feel” for each whole person; recognize what keeps the likable ones from sounding arrogant or ignorant. This will help you create lifelike story characters.

5. Reference books, such as encyclopedias, should be left for double-checking such basics as dates and locations—such books are generally weak on fine details. They can save you from letting someone sing a song a year before it was released. However—and this is a very big however

6. Double- and triple-check everything. You probably know that many Web sites are more interested in “proving” biases than in getting facts straight. But a conscientious writer maintains healthy skepticism toward any source; even reference books make mistakes. Check information against three or four experts on the topic. In case of discrepancies, don’t go with the majority—go to the sources your sources used (any reputable expert will note where she got her information). If there’s still room for doubt, review the sources used by those sources.

Yes, this is a nuisance. Yes, a thousand people may believe the false version. Yes, top writers occasionally get away with brutalizing the facts (as in Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Adventure of the Speckled Band,” where the solution hinges on blatant scientific error). But you’re not a top writer (or why bother reading this?), and can’t afford to make a fool of yourself in front of readers. Not if you want anyone to buy your next story.

And even after you remove all factual errors, the first draft of this story will have room for improvement.

© 2011 Katherine Swarts

Katherine Swarts is a poet and inspirational writer from Houston, Texas. Her self-published poetry book Where Light Dawns: Christian Poems of Hope for Hurting Hearts (the first volume in a planned series) was “written for naturally gloomy types like myself who are tired of ‘cheer up’ talk and need the comfort of ‘God does love you’ encouragement.” The poems in the book come from Katherine’s blog at; contact Katherine at for ordering information.

Monday, July 18, 2011


The book launch for my thriller Broken but not Dead at Books & Company was a huge success. They sold 30 copies! Thank you, everyone, for making it a very special day.

Selena and Reece attend Grandma Joylene's book launch, July 16, 2011

I'll post more on the launch next week. Meanwhile this week's being spent moving great-grandma Vera's things out of her apartment and preparing for her memorial on Saturday, July 23. If you're hoping to attend, it's at 1 PM in the basement of the Eagles on Dagg Road.


Friday, July 15, 2011

 Thank you to everyone for your prayers on behalf of our dear Vera. Sadly, Grandma passed away last evening.

 Rest in peace, dear Veronica Bourne Butler/Cole. You will be sorrowfully missed.

Normally, I wouldn't post anything about my work at this time, but two ladies were kind enough to interview me this week, and I am extremely grateful.

Rie McGaha generously posted our interview on her blog this morning. Please stop by when you can.

Christine HINZMANN-SKOREPA, staff reporter for The Citizen posted her interview online.

Thank you, Marie and Christine.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Broken But Not Dead, book tour highlights, pt 3

Do you know anyone who likes speaking in public and standing in front of a crowd? The morning of the day I'm expected to, I'm generally sick to my stomach. I've tried all the tricks, but honestly, it's still public speaking. What if I sound like my mouth's full of marbles, or worse, like a field mouse caught in an eagle's talon?

Day three of my book tour I attended an informal gathering at Kelowna Public Library to do a reading and signing for Broken but not Dead. I ignored the butterflies in my stomach, stayed positive, and guess what? I had a great time. Lesley and Fern were wonderful. Not to mention Judi and Ryan. Thanks everyone. Wish all my readings could be that easy.

Lesley Dieno, Executor Director, Fern Teleglow, Librarian

Lesley asked me some intelligent questions, and Fern, who had just finished reading my book, couldn't stop raving about it. I felt like a visiting bestselling author. I even read excerpts of my novel without spitting on anyone. Bonus.

Day four, Canada Day,  I returned to Penticton for a book signing at Hooked On Books. It's a lovely independent bookstore in the centre of the city, not far from my publishers. The store's owner, Judy Zubriski set me set up in a cozy area at the front, where I was able to greet customers as they entered. Thank you, Judy, for making it a wonderful day.

Hooked on Books owner, Judy Zubriski
Theytus publisher Sarah Dickie stopped by for a visit.

Theytus Publisher Sarah Dickie
Sarah's a lovely, bright and generous lady. If, before meeting her, I was scared about placing my book in the hands of strangers, upon meeting her that feeling disappeared instantly. Sarah's confidence in my ability has already gone a long way in stengthing my resolve. I feel like I belong to a terrific team of smart women: Sarah, Ann, Kailene, and Leanne, way to go ladies.

Lucky for me, Sarah has marketing marvel Ann Doyon in her corner. Ann, if you ever decide to give up the publishing business, I think you'd be an instant success as a standup comedian. Girl, I haven't laughed that hard in months. Thanks for all the hard work you did to make my book tour a success. And thanks for making me laugh until my sides ached; I needed that.

On a personal note, I met up with my older brother's sister-in-law, who I  hadn't seen 28 years. It was great seeing you, Dianne.

Day Five I was the featured author at Mosaic Books in Kelowna. Because of the Canada Day long weekend festivities, the streets were packed with people. I even ran into a friend from Prince George, situated 700 km north. Small world. Thank you for your gracious hospitality, ladies.

Day Six I headed to Vernon, BC, the last day on my tour, for a book signing at Bookland books. Katie had a comfy spot waiting for me with a table for signing and chairs for readers to sit and visit. I met the nicest people, which isn't surprising. There's something very special about readers. Thanks, Katie and staff, for making it an awesome day.

Taking photographs of your book signings is meant more of a "thank-you" to those who hosted the events than for blog readers. It's a way of saying "I appreciate everything you did to make my stay comfortable and pleasant." Yes, book signings aren't easy for some of us. If you're an introvert, as I am, then approaching strangers and recommending they buy your book is downright painful. It definitely takes me out of my comfort zone. 

The thing I try to remember is while I'm certainly not going to cure cancer and end world hunger, I have written a good book. I start by handing out bookmarks and offering free wrapped candies. I start the conversation by suggesting, "You can never have enough bookmarks." Most everyone agrees. Then I tell them I'm today's visiting author from Cluculz Lake. That generally starts a whole slew of questions, beginning with: "Cluculz Lake? Where the heck is Cluculz Lake?"

If you're about to embark on your first book tour, I hope you've gained some confidence by reading this blog. Selling yourself and your book isn't easy, but it's not rocket science either. Know that people are people. Or better yet, readers love and appreciate good books. Remember you're there because your book is good. Don't be afraid to admit it.

--happy touring,

Book Tour pt 1
Book Tour pt 2

Monday, July 11, 2011

Broken But Not Dead, book tour highlights, pt 2

Day two of my book tour was met by wet, cold weather. If you've visited the Okanagan, you'll realize immediately how unusual that is. Generally it's 30C+ at this time of year. I don't function well in hot weather, so I was (bite my tongue) grateful for the lower temperatures.

If you haven't already heard the story, my stop at Overwaitea Foods (my first book signing) might seem strange. It's a huge BC grocery chain with a book section down one aisle. I owe a lot to Overwaitea, now called Save-On Foods, and couldn't imagine a tour without them.

Joylene and Lorna

Two and a half years ago, my bestfriend's (Judi's) beautiful daughter, Andrea, took a book in and suggested to her boss that she'd enjoy the read. A few days later, I got a phone call asking for more books because they'd like to stock their shelves. When I admitted I had no more books, she suggested I contact Nancy Wise at Sandhill Books.

Lorna, Joylene, Nancy
Nancy read Dead Witness, sent me a contract, and said to call Hignell Printers in Manitoba; she also recommended I query Theytus. The rest is history. It's also why I always include Overwaitea Foods in my book tours. FYI, Overwaitea got its name because the shipment of their tea was overweight.

Don and Noreen Sawyer, good friends from Prince George, who relocated to Kelowna a few years ago, came by again for a visit and some books. Yes, God bless them! They were at my last book signing at the same store in 2009.


2011 - cute as ever, eh?
I know a lot of you are worried that you'll never find a publisher for your book. Maybe self-publishing isn't a feasible option or something that feels right for you.

Why some find success early while the rest of us work for twenty-seven years, is anybody's guess. I do know that if Keith Pyeatt  hadn't mentioned Lulu, I wouldn't have thought to print a few copies of my book for family and friends. Andrea wouldn't have taken one into her boss. And I wouldn't have known to call Nancy or Hignell.

Providence? Serendipity? Stubbornness? Maybe a little of each. But please know that if this can happen for me, it can definitely happen for you. Keep writing, revising, and learning, and I promise dreams can come true.

-- happy book tour.

ps. part 3 will be up in a few days. Meanwhile, tomorrow I'm a guest on Penny Ehrenkranz's blog. Hope you can stop by.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Broken But Not Dead, book tour highlights, pt 1

I'd like to share my recent book tour with you for two reasons. One, because I want those of you who haven't had one -- yet -- to know what they can be like. And two, because if you have done one, I hope we can compare notes after I've finished the installments.

I spent ten days prior to leaving setting up dates at ever venue available. That meant a lot of phone conversations with some very nice people; although having it on the July long weekend made things more difficult.

After I was packed and the house was semi-clean, I left at 9:30 on Sunday June 26th and drove straight through to Kelowna. Eight and a half hours later, within blocks of my destination, I got lost. I ended up driving over the bridge toward Westbank, spotted the circle, then headed back. I understand now why the locals call it a stupid circle.

The next morning, friends, who used to live in Cluculz Lake, picked me up for breakfast. I hadn't seen Val and Bob for some time, so we had a lot to catch up on. Coming from quiet Cluculz Lake, my first question was how did they cope in the big city of Kelowna? They sold their condo and moved to Keremeos.

I should have taken their photograph. I guess I was more tired than I realized.

I snuck this from Val's facebook

After lunch Carol Garvin and her dear husband Bob stopped by. They'd driven from their son's home in Armstrong just to meet me. Their granddaughter was graduating the next day, so they drove back afterward. Almost three years ago, I'd found the link to Carol's blog on the BC Federation members webpage and have been an active follower ever since. Carol is a lovely, wise, gentle woman. Meeting you, Carol was a honour.

I snuck this photo off Facebook too. I know, I'm bad. But aren't they adorable!

If you haven't checked out Carol's blog, you're missing something. Her photos and her writing are extraordinary. Read a few of her blogs entries, and you'll understand exactly what I mean. Carol is a  gifted writer.

Me & Carol

The next morning, June 28th, my best friend since high school, (10 years ago... okay 45!) Judi Broadhurst Geib took the day off work from Interior Health and went with me to meet my publisher. Lucky for me, Judi lives only an hour away. If asked, she'll tell you her job is to follow me around like a puppy dog, but the truth is, I couldn't do this without her. And frankly, I refuse to.

Have you seen the poster of Lucy and Ethel that reads: Friends Forever..? At the bottom it says: Because you know all my secrets! Haha, that's me and Judi.

While I sat and signed some copies of Broken but not Dead for my publisher, Judi snapped several pictures. 
"Smile, smile!" she ordered. Did I mention she's also bossy?

I know I made light of it at the moment, but holding my novel for the first time made me very happy.

After I was finished signing copies, Ann Doyon took shots of me signing, sitting, standing in the great room at En'owkin, standing in front of the foliage outside. Yes, I felt like a cross between a visiting aunt and a celebrity. Celebrity aunt?  I'd waited a long time for someone to tell me I was a good enough writer to publish. That kind of acknowledgment is hard to beat. 

On our way back to Kelowna, we stopped at Hooked on Books to drop off a poster for my signing in two days. As we were walking out, Judi spotted my books on the top shelf. If you look closely at the photo below, you'll see a copy of Dead Witness (tree) on the left and Broken but not Dead (red binding) on the right. That stunned expression on my face is me trying to digest what's happening. Talk about surreal. It was Judi's who made me pose for a picture. Told you she was bossy.

...Remember the time you went to your aunt's and she made you sit through a two-hour slide-show? That's it for today, folks. Part two should be up in a few days.

--Happy Book Touring

Thursday, July 7, 2011

BROKEN BUT NOT DEAD book trailer

I'm home from my book tour, but no closer to getting back to normal. I do have a slew of posts to share about my week, but my mother-in-law is seriously ill, so my attention is with her and my husband at this time. Vera is 95 years old. Two weeks ago she fell and broke her left wrist. She's right-handed so you'd think she'd be getting on fairly well. Sadly, no. She lives in an assisted living facility nearby and they'd prefer she use her walker when she returns. That's not the problem. Her wrist is healing nicely, but she's stopped eating. Every time we coax her to eat, I've tried baking chicken, cookies, even took in soft candy, she screws up her face and says, "You eat it." Apparently everything tastes greasy. Today I'm going to try a chocolate milkshake.

Despite outliving her husband, daughter, grandsons, Vera has always shared her quirky sense of humour with everyone she meets. I hope her spirit and humour show through in the photos below. 


Ever wonder why some live a few weeks while others live 9+ decades? Perhaps it's not as much about how they live their lives as it is about how we treat them while they're living.

Until we can get Vera settled back into her apartment or up at the manor, (she detests being in the hospital surrounded by sick people) I may not be reading your blogs on a timely basis. I realize that's not the be-all end-all, but I didn't want you to think my support has wavered in the least. I love all of your blogs. They feed me in more ways than I can possibly explain.

Have a great day/week, everyone. Happy blogging.

Here's the book trailer my publisher Theytus created for Broken But Not Dead. Their enthusiasm for my book is very encouraging. Can't thank them enough.

*our deepest sympathies to Gordon Tootoosis's family.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ask PZM: July 2011

Q: There are more networking sites than you can shake a stick at. Are they an essential part of marketing? Or should the author stay with sites like Facebook and ignore the rest?

I will admit that I originally put information about my novel “Mrs. Lieutenant” on every book site I could find. But then I realized that there is only so much time in the day to be active on these sites. And if you’re not active, then you’re not creating relationships with potential fans.

I learned from my initial mistakes and, in the three years since then, social media has become ever more important.

Thus in my opinion you should definitely be active daily on what I call the “Big Three” – LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. And you can use the free version of Hootsuite to make it easier for you to be active. (See blog post about Hootsuite at )

If you have more time, you could choose a couple of specialized sites on which to be active. These can be book author sites or sites associated with the topic of your nonfiction or fiction book. Or you can actively blog in connection with your book.

For example, because of my novel “Mrs. Lieutenant,” I share information to help military personnel and their families at and author Theodore Knell has started the forum “Hushed Voices” in connection with his memoir “From the Corners of a Wounded Mind.” (See blog post about this new forum at )

I’m not recommending you ignore other sites. I am recommending you commit to being active on the number of sites that you can personally handle without feeling overwhelmed.

Q. What does J.K. Rowling’s announcement of the site Pottermore mean for other authors?

I believe this news will have a very large impact on the emerging opportunities for ebook versions.  And if nothing else, it should tell all of us that any new books we publish should have ebook versions.

On a personal note I’m particularly interested that she will NOT have DRM (Digital Rights Management) on her ebooks.  In other words, she will NOT use DRM, which would have prevented her ebooks from being viewed on multiple ebook platforms.

I’ve been wrestling with this decision myself for the ebook release of the novel “Lt. Commander Mollie Sanders” and have decided to follow her lead.  We authors should make it as easy as possible for people to read our ebooks in whatever format they want.

Q:  What steps can an author from a small publishing house take to land on the bestseller's list? 
If only I had the answer to this question!

Seriously, though, the question is also relevant for authors from a large publishing house.  And outside of certain phenomenon whose stories we all know (“Harry Potter,” “Twilight,” etc.) I’m not sure there’s an answer besides trying to get as much visibility for your book as possible in front of your target audience.

Sometimes circumstances make it difficult to get in front of our target audiences:

As a former Mrs. Lieutenant, I knew that the PXs on every army military base would be a natural market for my novel “Mrs. Lieutenant.”  But in 2008 I couldn’t get in the PXs because my self-published novel wasn’t returnable.  And although I did have a Kindle version, there were few Kindle owners at that time.

And even if “Mrs. Lieutenant” had been published by a small publishing house, the book might not have gotten into PXs because of the particular book buying system for PXs.

In addition, at that time BookSurge insisted on a price for the book that I knew was too high, but there was nothing I could do about this.  Now CreateSpace (into which BookSurge was merged) allows authors to set their own prices.

On the other hand, any online opportunity might be just the opportunity an author from a small publishing house can use to help her/his book sales.

For example, here’s an idea I just got from reading about the Pottermore site: 

My business partner (and younger daughter) Yael K. Miller already has the website for her as yet unfinished Middle Grade fantasy novel “Jack Strom and New Orleans Hoodoo.”  Especially given the story she is writing, perhaps she should plan on adding games or other activities to the book’s website. 

In conclusion, the world of book publishing is changing so rapidly, an answer that might work today could not work six months from now.  We need to try to keep up with the most important changes and see what opportunities these create for our own book marketing efforts.

And we have to remember to keep an open mind to new things.  We can’t assume, for example, that, because J.K. Rowling is such an incredibly successful author, her tactics won’t work for us.  After all, we’ll never know until we try.

© 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

* “Mrs. Lieutenant” is now available on Kindle for $2.99: