Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Sun Sets, The Sun Rises

Or is it: suns rises, sun sets?

It sounds like I'm procrastinating, but in truth I'm under the weather. (as opposed to over the weather) I had no idea how taxing jet lag can be until we returned home from New Brunswick. In case you're not up to date on your Canadian geography, Cluculz Lake (central British Columbia) is over 2500 miles from Fredericton, New Brunswick (Maritimes).

The entire first day it felt as if the house were floating on the waves I could see outside. The wind's been up and Cluculz Lake is quite rough. The next day, I started leaning to the left. Turns out that a combination of the plane's high altitude and the chilly wind (ground level), I now have a nasty earache. I know, I know, I must see the doctor.

I'm only blogging because I didn't want you to think I'd gone away. And I will blog on the 3rd instalment of my journey to publication as soon as I'm back to my old self. First I need to complete the finally galleys for the ebook version of Dead Witness for my publisher, Lea Schizas at MuseItUp. (Nice plug, eh?)

I just wanted to say hello and to share last night's and this morning's shots of Cluculz Lake. It's so pretty here, despite the threat of winter.

--happy sunsets.


Thursday, October 20, 2011


A Half Dozen Hints for Advancing to Full-Length Books

© Katherine 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, and Odyssey; 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.

A list of short-story publishing credits doesn't necessarily mean you're ready to write a book. Before you make the big decision, consider these points. 
Publication in magazines is exhilarating enough; but a book of your own is the ultimate thrill.
One not easily achieved. You can’t train for a marathon by hundred-yard dashes, and you can’t “pad” a short story and call it a novel. Before you take on the “big time,” ask yourself:

1. Are you prepared to take at least a year? A short story may be ready in a week, but a novel is fifty times as long.

2. Are you already writing daily? “Hobbyist” short-story writers may get by on a few days a month. Novelists have to work virtually every day until completion, lest they lose track of their plots (or miss publisher deadlines).

3. Are you prepared for the inevitable periods of boredom? There will be days when your fingers dread the effort to catch up with your brain, when publication seems as remote as the Andromeda Galaxy. If your favorite thing about short stories is their “shortness,” you may not last through a novel.

4. Are you capable of creating complicated problems, many-faceted personalities, and multiple characters? One or two characters with simple plot problems work for short stories. But with a novel, this may mean you run out of story before you have sufficient text for a book. So create a problem that is extremely difficult to solve and confronted by multiple complications. And consider including four or five significant characters. No more than six in anything besides “bit parts,” though, lest readers get confused over who’s who.

Readers get really confused if people are hard to tell apart. Don’t name your characters Louise, Lois, Lee, and Lyle. And for each individual, create (without spelling out dialects) a distinct way of speaking; many manuscripts invite the complaint, “everyone sounds alike.” Review dialogue passages—if you remove all speaker attributions (“Maureen said”), how easy is it to keep track of who’s talking?

(Check elsewhere in “Writing Fiction” for dialogue hints.)

5. Can you accept that plot sometimes defies plans? Say that, three-quarters of the way through, you realize the story is taking a direction that will force you to kill off your favorite character, or change your intended ending. Do you:
  • Insist on doing things the way you planned, making the story sound forced;
  • Go back and rewrite the story—or scrap the whole project for something new—declaring months of work wasted; or
  • Grit your teeth and do things the way the plot demands?
Experienced writers nearly always pick the third option—and nearly always admit their stories are better for it. Are you brave enough to do the same? If not, maybe you’d be happier sticking with short stories, where it’s easier to see the end from the beginning and where major rewrites discard only days of work.

And with a novel, the work doesn’t end even with publication:

6. Are you prepared to help sell your own book? A magazine story rides the periodical’s name to a guaranteed number of readers. A first novel by an average citizen has to sell on its own merit.

Moreover, few publishers have much time or budget for promoting individual titles, so the work falls on the writers. Are you prepared to create and submit press releases, find reviewers and sales venues, and advise everyone to read your book? Moreover, are you prepared to talk about your book, about its plot and characters?

Once your novel does succeed, chances are readers will ask for more—perhaps more about the same characters.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Blake Attends His First Book Reading

I have a renew admiration for parents with babies. I can't imagine how you find time to blog, work & write while seeing to your child's needs. I met a couple here in Gagetown with two small children, the mother works full-time and the father has already completed 3 deployments in Afghanistan. Neither one of them complained.

And to think I thought I was doing good when I took time out from doting on Baby Blake to sneak in a reading at the Oromocto Library in New Brunswick.

I'm glad I did. Oromocto is a lovely community with a great support system. Twelve people attended my reading, and I sold 5 books. The highlight of the evening was the question and answer period. People were genuinely interested in my journey to publication.

Which reminds me, once I'm finished doing my mama thing, I'll be back home with the 3rd installment of how I became a published author.

--happy parenting

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Author Reading at the Oromocto Library

Since I'm still visiting Blake and his mummy and daddy, I'm not at my own computer and won't be able to reply to all your great comments until I get home next week. But thank you for commenting. It's wonderful hearing from you.

Speaking of Baby Blake, he's attending his first author reading tonight at 7 PM at the Oromocto Public Library. Hope he enjoys himself.

Monday, October 10, 2011

We're having a wonderful time with our new grandson Blake and his parents Cory and Shannon in New Brunswick.  Grandchildren are such a blessing, don't you think?

Not to worry, I won't start bragging about how beautiful our baby boy is. I'll just sit here and marvel at how precious life is.

Hope you're all doing great out there in blogland.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

ASK PZM - Oct 2011: ebook promo

Q:  How do authors promote ebooks online?  And what about promoting ebooks offline?
Great questions. 
First, let’s agree that by ebook we mean both the ebook version of a physical book (self-published or traditionally published) and an ebook that has no corresponding physical presence.  And let’s also agree that you have a cover image for an ebook-only project.
Ebook online promotion:
It seems to me – and this is what I’m doing – that everything that works online for physical books should also work for ebooks.
These marketing steps include:
·      Social media participation, including my “Book Marketing” group on LinkedIn

·      Dedicated website for the ebook (yes, even an ebook-only novel – see )

·      Posting on your own blog and posting comments on other people’s blogs

·      Amazon author page that includes your ebooks

·      Book marketing sites such as (I’m trying out the $9 a month option; in the past I’ve only used the free option)

·      Tweetchats about ebooks – Suzanna Stinnett (@Brainmaker on Twitter) has an #EPubChat every Friday 3-5 p.m. PACIFIC

Ebook offline promotion:
As I looked for answers to this more difficult question, I happened to read an item in Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s ezine newsletter for writers. 
Here is the item with permission from Carolyn to reprint:
Q: How do authors take advantage of "book displays" at book fairs and conferences when the authors only have ebooks to offer?
-- Mindy Phillips Lawrence, author of the upcoming ebook "An Itty Bitty E-book on Writing"

A: Authors make posters using the fake bookcovers we all provide for our ebooks -- the ones that help sell our books when they're pictured on sites like Amazon's Kindle section and Smashwords.
Authors make a little pad of paper (or bookmarks or business cards) with the same book cover image, a fantastic blurb and a little mini synopsis (sometimes called a pitch or logline) and the URL (web address) where a copy of the book can be purchased or downloaded.
These takeaway reminders to buy the ebook are displayed next to the poster.
-- Carolyn Howard-Johnson 
(Authors will benefit from subscribing to Carolyn's newsletter. Send an e-mail to her at and put SUBSCRIBE in the subject line. Learn more about Carolyn at
Only a couple of days before reading this item I realized I needed to get business cards for my ebook-only novel LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS and to re-do the business cards from over three years ago for my novel MRS. LIEUTENNANT.
This realization hit me as I waited in Coffee Bean here in Los Angeles for my exercise partner (children’s book author Susan Chodakiewitz – see 
A man sat by himself reading on a Kindle.  I went up to him and asked some marketing research questions.  He said he was going on a flight to China and would have lots of time to read.
I gave him the business card for my 86-year-old father’s comedy short story physical book (and ebook) – see – and dug out the old card for MRS. LIEUTENANT.  

Then I realized I had no card for LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS even though that ebook was the most likely of the three books to interest him.  (The novel deals in part with the hotly disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea and he was flying to China!)
When Susan and I got to the treadmills at the gym, we hatched a plan to get business cards for our books and ebooks to pass out whenever we saw people with an ereader or a tablet.  In fact, we are planning to try out this idea at a major mall here in Los Angeles that has Apple, Microsoft, and Sony stores.
In conclusion, you may know that I am not an advocate of cards for physical books.  Why?  You hand out the cards and hope people will remember to get your book the next time they’re online.
But if you hand out cards with a link to your ebook formats (Kindle, Nook, Smashwords), people who have their ereader or tablet with them can buy the book RIGHT THEN.  

Plus your ebook price is probably considerably less than the price of a paperback and provides instant gratification, which should help make it much easier for a reader to say YES to buying your ebook.  
Please share your own ideas in the comments below – we can all benefit from this exchange!
© 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 marketing consulting company
You can learn about her fiction and nonfiction books at

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ps. We're off to see our new grandbaby, so if I'm quiet, that's why.