Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Best On-line Marketing Strategy

(Photo by Byron Dyck on Vancouver Island)
Encourage readers to open the door to your writing

I've had the opportunity to sharpen my marketing skills both as a indie author and as an author published by a small press. Here's some of what I've learned from these experiences...

When marketing your newly released book, do you show or tell?

Tell:  Tweet:  Buy my book

Tweet:  My book is available for 99 cents this weekend

Tweet:  My book is free for a month

Tweet:  Have you bought my book yet?

Why tell your potential readers to buy your book when you can show them why they should?

Show:  Blog:  Tips for starting to write a book

Blog:  Interview with my muse about my latest writing project

Blog:  Virtual book launch party

Blog:  Podcast -- first chapter of my new book

Well-written posts shared as you live your author journey will build a supportive community -- a community of friends that help you build a successful career.

More marketing advice.... 
Kimberley Grabas advises you to ask...
Why did you write it?
Who did you write it for?
Read her article:  2 Must-Dos to Make Your Book Marketing Infinitely Easier

And you may want to read Kristen Lamb's helpful article Be a Peep NOT a Pain--How to Use Twitter Effectively

Also read this helpful article Five Social Media Marketing Tips for Authors

Next Monday:  And then, writing transitions

Sharing my author journey...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Book review: The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood



Back cover blurb:  Roz, Charis, and Tony all share a wound, and her name is Zenia. Beautiful, smart, and hungry by turns manipulative and vulnerable, needy and ruthless, Zenia is the turbulent center of her own perpetual saga. She entered their lives in the sixties, when they were in college. Over the three decades since, she has damaged each of them badly, ensnaring their sympathy, betraying their trust, and treating their men as loot. Then Zenia dies, or at any rate the three women -- with much relief -- attend her funeral. But as The Robber Bride begins, Roz, Charis, and Tony have come together at a trendy restaurant for their monthly lunch when in walks the seemingly resurrected Zenia...

Notes while reading...

About the book

For me, The Robber Bride is about personal and global wars. Why the anger? What do you gain? Is it worth the struggle? In the end, what are you left with? Is there a better way?

The Robber Bribe is told my three women. Their stories are linked together through one person -- Zenia. We follow each woman through this book -- through their own eyes, their own thoughts -- and the experience helps to define them.

Zenia 


In walks the "friend" that is supposed to be dead. It's like when pure evil enters the scene and the candle flame dances in the breeze. 

Why is she there? She should be dead? They all think. Then they think she's making us feel uncomfortable. It's not us that should be feeling that way -- it's her.

Tony (educated. professor. historian. wife. childless. )

Tony lets Zenia into the deepest part of herself. Tony reveals her greatest wound to Zenia. Tony tells Zenia about her estranged mother. Zenia lasps the story up like a kitten drinking milk. 

'This is the first time Tony has ever said very much to anyone about her mother... Zenia ... can see it's a painful subject for Tony, but this doesn't deter her; if anything it spurs her on. She pushes and prods and makes all the right noises, curious and amazed, horrified, indulgent, and relentless, and pulls Tony inside out like a sock.' (p. 152)
Zenia wiggles into Tony's life, uses her, wringles her out, stuffs her full of things that Zenia will be able to use later and then she's ready comes back into Tony's life and makes withdrawals. Tony is left to pick-up the pieces.

Chrisa (new age "hippie". single mother)

Zenia stole something from her. Ever since suffering this lose, Chrisa has been investing a lot more in herself -- building a happy life.

Chrisa is growing into her own happiness. She's learning healthy ways to release the unhappiness she feels. She's learning to take pleasure in what she has, instead of grieving what she's lost. But she feels her daughter, Augusta, judging her.

Roz (business woman. single mother.)

Roz's home life is like one of those English family comedy movies from the 1960s. 

Zenia is given the most life, the most power in Roz's life. Did Roz pay the most?

'[W]hen the women's movement hit town in the early seventies, Roz was sucked into it like a dust bunny into a vacuum cleaner.' (p. 394)

The men...

'Zenia says coolly "Mitch was a creep. Roz is better off without her." ' (p. 462)

West is weak; Billy is lazy; Mitch is unfaithful. I wonder if Zenia did Tony, Charis and Roz a favour by destroying their relationships with these men.

Atwood's writing

When Atwood wants to introduce back-story, she writes, 'For instance'. So simple; so effective.

I love this quotes... 'Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of women. A mother knows.' (p. 95)

Concepts to mull over... 'Perhaps the soul breaks up as the body does, and only parts of it are reborn, a fragment here, a fragment there.' (p. 508)

'The dead return in other forms ... because we will them to' (p. 525)

If you enjoy reading The Robber Bride you might also enjoy reading...


The Secret Life of Bees


Oh, yes, and Margaret Atwood has written a diverse collection of 55 books. No doubt you will find more books that interest...delight... inspire...entertain  you among them. Her latest book is Stone Mattress

Next Post:  Monday, January 26th:  Writers, how do you attract readers?

Sharing my author journey...

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Interview with author Victoria Chatham


How/why did you start to write?

I’ve always written – from crayons on the wall (not appreciated!) to pencils and paper. English Grammar and English Literature were my best subjects at school and I was regularly admonished by teachers for scribbling bits of stories in my school exercise books. I loved the freedom of being able to write what I wanted and let my imagination take over, even if it didn’t make sense to anyone else.

How did you become an author?

According to Wikipedia ‘an author is broadly defined as “the person who originated or gave existence to anything” and whose authorship determines responsibility for what was created’. That being said, I suppose I became an author when I wrote my first book at age thirteen. If you can call ‘Virginia, Girl of the Golden West’ a book! Virginia had wonderful adventures from capturing a wild mustang to living with Indians and being kidnapped by a mountain man. Looking back now I’m sure it was heavy on melodrama and light on writing skill. I do remember that my parents found it highly amusing, which at the time wounded me deeply and enough for me to retire my pencil and throw myself headlong into the new craze of rock n’ roll.

It wasn’t until many years later that I took up that pencil again and wrote ‘If Wishes Were Horses’ for my horse-mad daughter. Who am I kidding, I’m horse mad myself so it was as much for my enjoyment as hers. On Sundays the family had to fend for itself whilst I, with a flask of coffee and plate of sandwiches, shut myself in my room and wrote all day. I didn’t have a type writer back then so a friend typed my hand-written chapters and enjoyed the story so much she was always keen to get the next chapter. It was in the mid-70’s and the only copies I had were the original, presented to my daughter, and the carbon copy. At my friend’s insistence I had the book photo-copied and sent it out to four children’s book publishers. Each editor gave a really good review (only now do I understand how lucky I was) but not one offered to buy it although they all encouraged me to keep trying. I’d love to say my daughter still has it but, over the years and after many house moves, both hers and mine, the book vanished.

What was your first published piece? Where was it published? How long ago?

If annual reports and newsletters count as being published, that would be since the early 80’s. Sadly, I think I’m giving my age away here! However, my first actual book, Always A Lady, was self-published as part of the Bandit Creek Books series in 2012. This was a huge and fun enterprise, with some thirty authors collaborating to write their stories set in the fictional town of Bandit Creek. Together we planned the town, both the old town for the historical writers and the new town for the contemporary writers. We ‘borrowed’ each other’s characters and we all had to incorporate one mystical character, Jack, into our stories. These were all novellas and we published two books a month for over a year.

Readers wanted to know what happened to my characters but, under the Bandit Creek collective agreement, I couldn’t use any of the characters and features devised by the group, I could only keep the characters I created. I revised that book as Cold Gold, The Buxton Chronicles Book 1which was then published by Books We Love Ltd. More readers asked what happened next, so then I sent my characters off to San Francisco in On Borrowed Time, The Buxton Chronicles Book 2. The last in the series, Shell Shocked, The Buxton Chronicles Book 3 has just been published.

The Buxton Chronicles were set in 1907, 1913 and 1918 respectively. Anyone who enjoys the TV series Downtown Abbey and before that Upstairs, Downstairs would recognise the Edwardian era but it’s the Regency period that I truly enjoy. My first full length novel is a Regency romance, His Dark Enchantress. That came out as an e-book in 2013 and in paperback August 2014. My current work in progress is another Regency romance, His Ocean Vixen which will be released in April 2015.

Reflect on your writing process.

This is somewhat haphazard. Once I’ve embarked on a book I try to write about four hours a day, five days a week. Note I said try! I’ll spend hours reading, researching and making notes, sketching houses my characters reside in, jotting down ideas for scenes and lines of dialogue. I have two critique partners, authors Brenda Sinclair and A.M. Westerling, and I am very grateful for their input. I’m a combination of a plotter, quilter and pantser and it’s always a relief when I type The End.

What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?

The majority of positions I held throughout my working life involved customer service, so I really had a great start in understanding motivation which I can apply to my characters. I’ve always been an avid reader, too, and this was a great escape from my working life. I was dreaming up stories for a long time before I actually started writing.

Parting words

I’d encourage anyone who is interested in writing but hasn’t started yet, to join a group or take some courses, whether in person or on line. Writing is a craft that has to be learnt and having a great story idea is only part of the process. I’d also say it’s never too late to start writing. I always wanted to be published and now, as a senior and two-time breast cancer survivor, I’ve reached that goal.



(Cover designer:  Michelle Lee)


A London season is the last thing bright, beautiful Emmaline Devereux wants. But her grandfather knows he is dying and insists that she find herself a husband and secure her future. But Emmaline has a past that, if revealed, will undoubtedly bring disgrace on her and those with whom she associates.
Lucius, Earl of Avondale, has sworn to not marry until he is forty, but fate brings Emmaline to his door. Intrigued by her, Lucius swears to unravel her mystery even if it does mean a marriage of convenience with her to appease her grandfather. But then Emmaline’s past catches up with her and she is abducted. Will Lucius want to find her and will the truth tear them apart or strengthen their love?

5 stars A heroine to admire By Roberta Langon
No simpering miss is this main character. The brother and guardian of her best friend is amused, outraged, and finally caught. An entertaining and delightful read.

  

Lady Serena Buxton follows her husband from England to Cold Creek, a gold mining town in northern California. But, when she arrives, Randolph is missing.
The sheriff seems to be keeping a watchful eye on her. She cannot trust Douglas King, the mine manager who treats her as if she is already a widow. The bank manager refuses her request for access to Randolph’s funds. With no husband and no money, what is a girl to do?
Serena has an unsuspected and quite shocking talent. Two enterprising local ladies help her prepare for a public performance but the only suitable venue in town belongs to King with whom she strikes a bargain. The whole town turns out to see the show, the venue is packed.
But who is in the crowd watching? Will King insist on exacting his fees and will Serena be reunited with the husband she loves?

5 stars A gem By Sue Short, sweet, delightful. Good plot and wonderful characters-especially considering the length of the story. Clever, funny, touching, suspenseful. I want more!


Lord Randolph and Lady Serena Buxton’s orderly lives are upset by Pinkerton Agent Stuart Montgomery’s unexpected arrival at their estate in England. And this is no ordinary social call!
Montgomery is investigating four suspicious deaths at an American aviation company, and of the two remaining partners one is the old friend of Lady Serena’s. Can Montgomery convince his friends to return to America with him in hopes of finding the missing piece to the puzzle that will help him close the case?
Serena has her doubts. Her concern for her friend, Sir Hilary, is overlaid by her fear that Randolph may once again find his life in danger from an old adversary who once left him for dead. Does Montgomery really want their assistance? Or is his case just an excuse to renew a potentially scandalous association with her?  Time is running out as events escalate revealing more secrets than ever suspected.




In the closing months of World War 1 Lady Serena Buxton is plagued by doubts. Her husband is reported missing. Not knowing if he is dead or alive, she fights her own battle on the home front.
Buxton Hall is now a hospital. Her allies are the quartermaster, doctor and matron. Her household staff rally round her, all except the housekeeper who seems more and more detached. What is her problem? Keeping her own emotions in check while she solves one issue after another, Serena is barely holding her own, but then Randolph comes home.
She married for love. But the man who returns to her, damaged in body and mind, is not the man she married. Fearing that he is lost to her, Serena knows she will have to be strong to look after him. But will her love be strong enough to hold everything she most cares for together?


Find Victoria at:

Sunday, January 11, 2015

No MFA? Submit to these literary magazines

In her article -- What Your Writer's Resume Says About Your Chances for Recognition -- Sharon Bially outlines steps authors can take to keep their manuscripts out of the shredder and increase the likelihood that your potential publisher will read it. Among these steps, Ms. Bially recommends submitting short stories to literary journals. 

To this recommendation, Paula Cappa wrote:  'My question is how does a serious writer break into literary magazines without writing or academic credentials already established? Would you be able to give us a few names of lit magazines that you know to be open to new writers who don't have MFAs or a list of previously published short stories?'

Canadian literary magazines that are open to new writers who don't have MFAs or a list of previously published short stories...




The Fiddlehead 
(Contest)
From their website:  'Work is read on an on going basis, the acceptance is rate is around 1-2%'
Welcomes international submitters.

The Antigonish Review
(Contest)
Welcomes international submitters.

The Malahat Review 
(Contests:  Long Poem Prize Feb. 1, Fiction May 1, Creative Nonfiction August 1, Open Season November 1)
From their website: 'It publishers poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction by new and established writers mostly from Canada as well as reviews of Canadian books, and the best writing from abroad.'

Room
(Contest)
From their website: '[P]ublishes orriginal work by women.'

Prism International 
(Contests)
Welcomes international submitters.

The New Quarterly
From their website: 'Please be advised that we only publish writing by Canadian citizens (whether living at home or abroad) and landed immigrants.'

Geist
(Contest)
From their website: 'We publish work from Canadian writers, or pieces that have a distinct connection to Canada and Canadian culture.'

Grain
(Contest)
From their website: '[I]internationally acclaimed literary journal that publishes engaging, surprising, eclectic, and challenging writing and art by Canadian and international writers and artists.'

Prairie Fire
(contest)
Welcomes international submitters.

Capilano Review
Welcomes international submitters.

All of these journals pay contributors. Last year, I submitted a manuscript to each of these journals -- at least one, some more than one. I haven't been published, yet -- but I've come close.
Submitting to literary magazines is like dating. You need to have fun, be polite, get to know each other -- not all of them will be a good fit, but you will met some really nice people. 

Sharing my author journey...

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Reality Skimming Press by Lynda Williams


Swords and space! For me, they cover the contrast between the personal and vast in science fiction. Reality Skimming is also the faster-than-light method of travel used by the heroes of my 10-novel Okal Rel Saga, and the founding purpose of Reality Skimming Press was to carry the Okal Rel Universe into the future, with a re-boot of the backlist and a new title every year. Our first legacies book was Hal Friesen's Shepherds of Sparrows in 2013.

Reality Skimming Press is owned and operated by myself, Lynda Williams, and my husband David Lott, with help from a group of collaborators such as artists Jeff Doten, Doriano Strologo, Richard Bartrop and Yukari Yamamoto. Christel Bodenbender has recently joined us as an interviewer for the Reality Skimming Blog. Other friends have helped out in the past and may again in the future.

Beyond Okal Rel, the broader vision for the press is to celebrate the heroic aspect of speculative fiction. The sort of thing that stirred me up and gave me courage, in my youth, reading comics, reading books and watching TV and movies. As a mature woman, I find it harder to believe in heroes without more shades of gray, and there are certainly dark patches in the Okal Rel Saga, itself. But on the whole I'm still interested in SF where readers remain motivated to cheer for the hero, flawed as he or she may be, and struggle for some version of good versus evil in the world. We brand ourselves as optimistic SF.

Adding children's books sprang from a personal connection. Jennifer Lott is our daughter, and the setting she writes about in her Family Magic Series is loosely based on our home when she was young. Working with books for new readers proved exciting, and we hope to add a second series over the next year, when we find a writer with the right profile for us.

Reality Skimming Press is in a development stage from now until the end of 2016. We're learning about the business, pacing ourselves, making connections and learning the trade. The plan is to expand a little, year by year, and see where it leads. Our core values are the joy of books in print and experimenting in online arenas, as opportunities arise.


Find us online at http://facebook.com/relskim to follow our progress and get to know us. And order Cursed Dishes and Shepherds of Sparrows through your local Chapters to join in the experience.

Jennifer Lott maintains a separate website for the Family Magic Series at http://familymagicseries.com/

You can explore the Okal Rel Universe at any of the following URLs.
* The Okal Rel Site and Reality Skimming Blog http://okalrel.org
* Reading Okal Rel http://readingokalrel.wordpress.com/
* Author Lynda Williams on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/644584.Lynda_Williams

Sunday, January 4, 2015

On this blog in 2015


Please click on the image to embolden

Dear Reader,

As my own writing career demands more and more of my attention, I'm finding less and less time for everything else. And thus I've been forced to make a difficult decision. Effective January 16, I will no longer publish guest posts. (My last guest will be Victoria Chatham.) 

This will be my new blog blurb...

Leanne Dyck invites readers and writers to join her on her "wild" author journey. She promises to keep you entertained, informed and inspired. One new post will be available every Monday. Leanne writes from Mayne Island, B.C., Canada.  Thank you for helping to nurture this blog by visiting, sharing the link and commenting. 

As we meet the promise of a new year, I hope I can continue to count on your support.

And please note, my decision to cancel Friday posts does in no way effect my goal of building community and supporting those in the publishing industry. I plan to continue to share my Internet finds -- publishing opportunities, informative articles and more. In fact, I hope to meet this goal more effectively by utilizing Google Plus and Twitter. 

Please follow me...

on Google Plus, please click this link

and on Twitter as lustfulgraces ( link )

(I'd also enjoy connecting with you on Facebook.)

Of course, the over 100 guest posts that I began publishing on this blog in 2010 will still be available for your reading pleasure on the guest post page

Thank you to the publishing industry professionals who have contributed to this blog. I've learned a lot from you. The most important lesson is that if you continue to strive to build a successful life in writing you will be successful. Believe in the power of your words.


I'm looking forward to spending 2015 with you.
Best wishes for a fun and successful new year,
Leanne

Friday's Guest:  Reality Skimming Press

Next Monday's post:  No MFA? Submit to these literary magazines. 

Sharing my author journey...

Friday, January 2, 2015

Introduction to Booktrack by Karen Tay, Community Manager


If you’re looking for a way to increase the audience for your books, why not try creating a Booktrack?

Booktrack synchronizes soundtracks to eBooks, resulting in a new movie-style reading experience. Our platform is free for both readers and creators, and the ability to sell books is coming soon.

The great thing about Booktrack is that not only do we have an active community of avid readers, we can also reach other non-traditional reading audiences: musicians, educators, gamers and technology lovers – to name just a few. Booktrack offers a way to make reading immersive, fun and cool again.

There are many innovative ways that authors can use Booktrack to market to all these different audiences. We have over half a million users on the platform, and that number is growing by the day. Here are some ideas to get you started!

Publish an excerpt/short story
One of the ways you can take advantage of the free nature of Booktrack is to publish a sample chapter or two, linking to your paid novel from there. Short stories are also popular on the platform and a great way for new authors to establish an audience.

Serialized fiction
With traditional publishing getting increasingly harder to break into, many authors are finding success through releasing serialized fiction. Giving away the first few chapters, stories and even book for free can be a way of drawing in an audience. On Booktrack, writer Danielle Harjo is currently releasing her book Demon Wolf in instalments.

Use the Booktrack community
There are many ways you can reach the Booktrack community. The most important thing is to publish a good, well-written and edited Booktrack with a strong cover and well thought out soundtrack. Secondly, read other people’s Booktracks, not just so they will read your story, but to get ideas about using different sounds and music. By participating in discussions (commenting on, reading and rating other Booktracks), you can become an active and valued member of our digital community!

Show off your personality
Booktrack can be a great way of showing off the more colorful side of your personality. Authors often work in isolation, only getting feedback from their editors and readers when the story is complete. With Booktrack, you can choose to put up blog posts with a soundtrack to share with your social media friends, or write fun short stories based around writing exercises in between completing your novel. It all means more people reading your work at the end of the day!