Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Writer's Journey

Please welcome our guest today, Kernersville-based author Bill Cissna. He has been writing fiction and non-fiction for fun and career since the mid-1970's. He self-published his first full-length private-investigator novel, A Simple Murder, in 2010 (as an eBook for Kindle and Nook), and then in paperback in early 2011. He added a novel, Fictionography of a Mental Coward, later in 2011. He has also been writing short and full-length plays since 2006: his first produced play, Conversations in a Cafe, was released in printed form in early 2012. He has talked about mysteries in general and private-investigator novels in specific starting in early 2012. He's working on a follow-up detective novel, a serial-killer novel set on the Outer Banks, and several play projects from his bases in Kernersville and Fleetwood, NC.

A Writer's Journey

I’ve been writing fiction and non-fiction for as long as I can remember. Some days, that’s three weeks back. But it all began with my first published fiction in the high school literary rag, then a whole lot of non-fiction marketing, advertising and P.R. copy over the years. I don’t believe I’d be exaggerating to suggest my printed output is in the millions of words by now. Not much of it you’d want to read, but still … lots of practice, anyway.

I returned to short stories in the late 80s and early 90s to fight the boredom of press releases. Horror and detective stories led to two novel-length works, later updated and re-birthed as A Simple Murder and Fictionography of a Mental Coward, which I will bring with me to Lumberton. And in 2006, I added playwriting to my resume. Conversations in a CafĂ© is the first of them to be produced, and it’s in print now, too.

Still a novice to book marketing, I was delighted to discover Book’EmNC. A chance to talk books, meet readers and authors, and support a cause I very much believe in at the same time? Perfect! Can’t wait.

(By the way, fellow writers, I learned about Book’EmNC, and just in time, thanks to the North Carolina Writers’ Network’s e-mail updates. Yes, that is a plug for the organization. Long-time member, I am.)

If you’d like to learn more about me before February, check me out at And if you just can’t wait to read one of my books or my play, has the Kindle and paperback versions, and has Nook versions of the novels.

Thanks for listening! (Or is that reading?) Anyway, hope to see you soon.

Please join Bill and more than 75 authors at Book 'Em North Carolina on Saturday, February 23, 2013. You'll have a chance to chat with Bill one-on-one and also listen to panel discussions and ask questions. His books will be for sale at the event, and proceeds go to literacy campaigns in our communities. For more information, visit 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Interview with a Mind-Scribe

Please welcome our guest today, Anne Brooke, who comes to us through Goddess Fish Promotions. Anne Brooke’s fiction has been shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Novel Award, the Royal Literary Fund Awards and the Asham Award for Women Writers. She has also twice been the winner of the national DSJT Charitable Trust Open Poetry Competition.

She is the author of six published novels, including her fantasy series, The Gathandrian Trilogy, published by Bluewood Publishing and featuring scribe and mind-reader Simon Hartstongue. More information on the trilogy is available at: and the first of these novels is The Gifting. In addition, her short stories are regularly published by Riptide Publishing, Amber Allure Press and Untreed Reads.

Anne has a secret passion for theatre and chocolate, preferably at the same time, and is currently working on a fantasy novella, The Taming of the Hawk. More information can be found at and she regularly blogs at:

The Gifting Blurb:

The mind-dwellers of Gathandria are under deadly siege. For two year-cycles they have suffered: their people decimated, their beautiful city in ruins. Their once peaceful life has descended into chaos and misery. Legends tell of the Lost One who will return at such a time to save them from their mortal enemy – the mind-executioner. This enemy knows their ways well, for he was once an elder of the city. Time is running out.

Johan and Isabella take up the quest, journeying to the Lammas Lands searching for their distant cousin and lowly scribe, Simon Hartstongue. The elders dare to hope that he is whom they seek. Not everyone shares this hope; there is one amongst them who is bound to the enemy, shielding their secret thoughts from mind links while seeking to betray Simon.

Powerful lessons are learned as they travel through the mystical kingdoms of the Mountains, the Air, the Desert and the Waters. Deadly attacks threaten total annihilation and devastating sorrow strikes. Story-telling weaves a tenuous net of protection around them, but the enemy has absolute power with the stolen mind-cane in his possession. To his surprise Simon hears its song. Desperately he tries to understand and embrace his gifting, as he struggles to comprehend his inheritance.

A strong and pure mind is needed in the battle to defeat the enemy. If you are branded a coward, a murderer and an outcast, how can you be a saviour? Doubt creeps into the Gathandrians' minds. Is Simon truly the One?

You can read an excerpt and purchase The Gifting in eBook and in paperback.

Interview with a Mind-Scribe by Anne Brooke
Anne: Today I’m interviewing one of the main characters in my fantasy novel, The Gifting, which is the first book in my Gathandrian Trilogy. Simon Hartstongue is an itinerant scribe, originally from the White Lands. He has the ability to read minds but keeps this talent as secret as possible because of the laws of the Lammas Lands, where he is currently serving as scribe and companion to the Overlord, Ralph Tregannon. Simon, thank you for coming, and please tell us more about your mind-reading skills.
Simon: [Leans forward, frowning] It’s hard for me to talk about. The ability to know people’s thoughts, their deepest fears and loves, isn’t something I’m proud of. It’s not something I’ve ever sought out. On the whole, it brings nothing but pain.
Anne: Surely that can’t be true? I’d have thought there’d be a lot of advantages in having such a close connection with people. It would certainly give you early warning of danger, which can only be a good thing, especially in these tense times in the Lammas Lands. And having a closer relationship and really understanding people you love would, I imagine be a wonderful gift.
Simon: Yes, it should be, but that’s not my experience, I’m afraid. I don’t know anyone else who has the same kind of abilities, not since …not since I was young. I don’t think I’m supposed to be like this and, in the end, it only drives everyone away.
Anne: Everyone?...
Simon: [Speaking softly] No, not everyone. Some people in the Lammas Lands find it useful.
Anne: Yes, that’s true. Your answer brings me nicely to the subject of Ralph Tregannon, the Lammas Overlord. He’s been the instigator of a lot of changes in Lammas recently, which have caused a great deal of pain and difficulty across the region. Your name’s also been closely linked with the mock-trials and death-sentences of many villagers who have no previous record of dissent or crime. Can you tell me anything about this?
Simon: Ralph isn’t a murderer. He’s many things, but he’s not that. If he says there is a spirit of rebellion and fear in his country, and we have to fight to save the Lammas people, then I believe him. He’s no liar.
Anne: Even though his actions have caused the death of so many Lammassers you say he wants to save? How can you justify that, Simon the Scribe, and how can you justify your own involvement in this massacre?
Simon: [Runs hands through hair and looks away briefly. There’s a pause before his answer] I can’t, by the gods and stars. Not if you ask me for the truth. I never wanted anyone to die, but for me to refuse Lord Tregannon would be like a drop of river water refusing to flow with the current. Impossible to imagine. But I swear to you I wish these deaths had never begun.
Anne: But you can leave the region, and help end these murders. You have run all your life. What’s so different now?
Simon: [Smiles but it doesn’t reach his eyes] You’re saying that as well as being a murderer, I’m also a coward? You’re right, I know it. Only a fool would say otherwise. Escape hasn’t been far from my thoughts, but the Lammas Lands have given me the first taste of a home and another man’s trust that I have ever known, and leaving it – even under these circumstances – is beyond me. I have to see the story through. Still, something in my mind tells me the life I know is about to change, but I don’t know in what way that could be.
Anne: And if it does change, what will you do then?
Simon: My past is against me, but I hope I’ll learn to be brave …
Anne: I hope so too. Thank you for talking to me today, Simon.
To discover if Simon finds his hidden supply of courage, and to enter the competition to win a Kindle (see below), pick up a copy of The Gifting today!
Giveaway competition details:
The giveaway competition: the prize is ONE Kindle ereader worth £89 ($89 US) if these three questions about The Gifting are answered correctly:
1. In the beginning of Chapter Four, what sound is Simon first aware of when he wakes up?
2. At the start of the Third Gathandrian Interlude, who knocks Annyeke down in his desperation to reach her?
3. What happens to Simon at the end of Chapter Six?
Answers should be sent to albrookeATmeDOTcom (and NOT left on the post), and winners will be notified as soon as possible after the tour ends.
There is also a Runner-Up Prize of THREE eBooks from my backlist (not including The Gifting) to one lucky commenter from the whole blog tour. Good luck!
Please follow Anne's tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:

Contact Information for Anne Brooke:


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Of Breath and Rhythm

Please welcome our guest today, Steve Mitchell. Steve has been writing seriously for about twelve years. His fiction and poetry has been published in Contrary, Peregrine, The Adirondack Review, The North Carolina Literary Review, and Flash Fiction Magazine, among others.

His plays have been performed in theatres along the East Coast. He's directed additional theatre by Sam Shepard, Christopher Durang and Peter Brook among others, and toured with a multi-voice poetry group performing original work (and the occasional Gladys Knight and the Pips cover). He's directed a number of short films and taken part in two 48 Hour Film Projects as writer and actor. He's most proud of his performance as 'Thug 1' in Gone to Ground.

As a writer, he's intrigued with the places where true memory becomes our mythology and the places where these mythologies wrestle with our world. He's excited by moments of awareness in which something actually changes within us. And, he loves the way we learn about strangers in conversation: in snippets and bits and odd elocutions, in half-formed images and conjecture.

Of Breath and Rhythm

I'm not particularly religious, but I've always been intrigued by old recordings of the sermons of evangelical preachers. The best are incredibly nuanced and inherently dramatic. They have an aspect of music, as all great public speaking does. And when the preachers truly get going, their breathing becomes audible, the interlacing of inhalation and exhalation apparent. In fact, they bring great attention to it.

I've always thought of this as an effort to ease the congregation into a pattern of respiration, to draw the group into a unified breath. In those moments, the congregation could become one body, sharing this singular breath in the same way they might when they sing together.

I think the same gesture is there in a story. The best writing has a unique rhythm which insinuates itself in the reading. It's within this rhythm, this breath, that we come together as readers, and as writers.

Within the story, each reads in their own way. I can imagine it as a sort of scattered chorus, dotting the globe, one person here, another there, each adding their voice. And if we could listen in just the right way, we might hear those voices coming together as one.

The story becomes a different thing then, as it is articulated by each reader, each claiming it as their own, imagining details left out by the author, constructing deeper pasts and new futures for the characters. The story becomes more full and open as it is read.

The preacher shares his inhalation. Each congregant enters as they will. The writer shares his work. Hoping to touch some sense of beauty or wonder, he offers a pattern of words as personal as breath.

As readers, we give ourselves to this process, partners in a dance or stars of the same constellation, building something between us. The writer writes.

It's the reader who completes the sentence.

About his book, The Naming of Ghosts, Frances Badgett with Contrary Magazine says, "Steve Mitchell's lyrical prose and beautifully crafted stories haunt the reader long after the final pages. His characters are so full and fascinating, and the urgency of heir need to connect is so strong. Poignant, inspiring, and compelling, The Naming of Ghosts is the finest collection of stories out there."
Awards Won:
Three of his short stories were nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2010
He was a finalist in the 2009 Fulton Prize for Short Fiction
Finalist in the 2010 Ron Rash Award for Short Fiction

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Human Element

Book 'Em North Carolina is pleased to bring you a variety of information about authors of various genres and backgrounds. Today's guest is Donna Galanti, author of The Human Element. She comes to us through Book Tour Partner Goddess Fish.

Donna will be giving away a $50 Amazon Gift Certificate to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. So please leave a comment. The more comments you leave, the greater your chances are of winning. You can follow her complete tour here.

About the Book

In A Human Element, one by one, Laura Armstrong’s friends and adoptive family members are being murdered, and despite her unique healing powers, she can do nothing to stop it. The savage killer haunts her dreams, tormenting her with the promise that she is next. Determined to find the killer, she follows her visions to the site of a crashed meteorite–her hometown. There, she meets Ben Fieldstone, who seeks answers about his parents’ death the night the meteorite struck. In a race to stop a mad man, they unravel a frightening secret that binds them together. But the killer’s desire to destroy Laura face-to-face leads to a showdown that puts Laura and Ben’s emotional relationship and Laura’s pure spirit to the test. With the killer closing in, Laura discovers her destiny is linked to his and she has two choices–redeem him or kill him.

An Excerpt from A Human Element

He was seven when he discovered he would never be set free. His doctors and teachers gathered together one day in his room to tell him he would never be allowed to go anywhere at all. It was too risky. They said he wasn't human and could not live among humans. When he asked if he could meet the girl, they shook their heads, not understanding him. What girl? He couldn't explain. He just knew she was part of him and she was out there growing up with a family. He hated her for that. He wanted a family.

But X-10's life would instead remain one of exhibition in a cell. And so X-10 was left with the doctor, forgotten in a world that existed on the outside. A world X-10 planned to make his escape into. A world where he could have a name, not just a number. He could escape to mountains somewhere and live in remote woods. Unfound. Free

"Charlie," he grunted. "My name will be Charlie. A hero who escapes his prison and kills all these pigs."

But first he would kill the doctor in a long and suffering way. Then he would find the girl and kill her too. X-10 hated the girl with intensity. Thinking of her threw him into violent rages when he tormented himself thinking of her life out there in the world.

“Laura,” he seethed through his steam-shovel mouth.

She got to live a life he never had. A life with a name.

What Reviewers are Saying

“A HUMAN ELEMENT is an elegant and haunting first novel. Unrelenting, devious but full of heart. Highly recommended.” –Jonathan Maberry, New York Times best-selling author of DEAD OF NIGHT

“A thrilling ride full of believable characters, a terrifying villain, an epic battle for survival, and a love worth killing for. A page-turner filled with fascinating twists and turns!” Marie Lamba, author of WHAT I MEANT

About the Author

Donna Galanti is the author of the paranormal suspense novel A HUMAN ELEMENT (Echelon Press). Donna has a B.A. in English and a background in marketing. She is a member of
International Thriller Writers, Horror Writers Association, The Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group, and Pennwriters. She lives with her family in an old farmhouse in PA with lots of nooks, fireplaces, and stinkbugs but sadly, no ghosts. Visit her at:

Purchase A HUMAN ELEMENT here:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Why I Write Thrillers

Our guest today is Ian Walkley, who has had a career in social and market research, and has been writing novels, short stories, travel articles and copywriting since 2008. He has co-authored two publications on small business and his first novel, No Remorse, was published in 2012. Ian's screenplay "Deniable Justice" placed fourth in the Writer’s Digest 2011 Competition for best screenplay. Ian has travelled extensively and researched his subject, and brings a knowledge of location and technical detail to the exotic settings and big screen thrills. Ian lives in Brisbane with his wife and three children. Ian comes to us through Goddess Fish.

Ian will award a $50 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

Please follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here.

Why I Chose to Write Thrillers

When I was running my marketing consultancy I traveled a great deal, and loved to read escapist thrillers while flying. I wanted to write a book that other travelers would enjoy. Also, I like action and suspense, and get bored with mysteries that fill pages with manipulated plots designed to delay the revealing of a secret. Thrillers are about tension that makes the reader want to turn the page. Many men don’t read fiction, and I want to write stories that get men reading again, while also appealing to female readers. Readers have written to me about how they stayed up all night to finish No Remorse, or how their husband wouldn’t pay them attention until he had finished the book. So I think the answer is short chapters, lots of action, and a mix of conflict, violence and sex.
I’d wanted to write novels because I have always enjoyed reading them. But in my day, writing novels was something that mysterious people (usually in the US or UK) did. Famous Australian authors were extremely rare, and certainly not well-known to me. Looking back, I probably should have become a journalist like my father and uncle. Still, I ended up running a successful business as a consumer researcher, which I sold to make way for a new career as a fiction writer in 2008.
As you probably know, 2008 was the year ebooks began to take off. This has had an upside and a downside. When it came time to pitch my completed book to agents and publishers in late 2011, they were all scrambling to figure out whether they would survive this Amazonian revolution. The focus became on getting well-known authors to produce more money spinners, and debut authors were being shunned. I think that situation is changing now, but in the end I decided to self-publish rather than die wondering whether my writing was any good.
Fortunately, No Remorse has had excellent reviews. Here’s a selection from the esteemed Kirkus Reviews’ review:
“Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict…
With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded.
In my younger days, my writing heroes were Ludlum, Maclean, Wilbur Smith—action, adventure, global conspiracies—so I naturally gravitated to thrillers. When I began writing No Remorse, in 2008, I had in mind writing a Ludlum-esque prologue about some mysterious event, and weaving a story around it. I was curious about Saddam’s missing WMD’s, so I came up with the idea of Saddam passing nuclear materials to an old Saudi Prince who buried them in the Arabian desert just before the invasion.
However, over the three years I was writing the book many things occurred that kept forcing me to rewrite the story. I came to the view that everyone wanted to put Iraq behind them, and more recently Osama Bin Laden was killed. In the end, I spent a further six months rewriting the story so that it would not date.
No Remorse in its final form is the story of the kidnapping of two American teenage girls on holiday in Mexico, and the subsequent search for them by a former special operations soldier Lee McCloud (Mac). I have retained the theme of ‘no remorse’ in terms of achieving retribution for the evil that bad people have done to others.
I have enjoyed the research side of writing. I traveled to Paris, London and Dubai to help with setting, and investigated the activities of the bad guys in areas such as human trafficking, which is a massive global trade, rivaling drugs in illegal earnings. I also researched the corruption of the global financial system, computer hacking, and read many non-fiction accounts from special forces operators.
I’m currently writing my second book. It’s a different type of story, a crime thriller more like a Harlan Coben, Don Winslow or Nelson DeMille story. I have already begun plotting the sequel to No Remorse.
I love the challenge of putting together a complex plot and seeing it completed. And what I love equally as much is hearing from readers how much they enjoyed the story. That’s what writing novels is all about.

About the Book

Two men, exiles from their respective societies, take conflicting approaches in the quest to regain their place and self-respect, and find themselves at war over a kidnapped girl.

Lee McCloud (“Mac”), a special forces soldier facing trumped-up charges of murder, is forced to work for a mysterious government outfit operating outside the law.

Khalid Yubani, cast out of Saudi Arabia for an offence against another member of the Royal family, seeks revenge through ruthless acts of evil. Engaged in the worst forms of human trafficking, Khalid buys Sophia, the daughter of Mac’s best friend, who has been kidnapped in Mexico. With time running out for Sophia, Mac enlists the help of a beautiful computer genius, a British SAS soldier and a Lebanese fixer to try to find Sophia and save her from the terrifying fate that Khalid has in store.

Although starting the quest as a man with no remorse, Mac gradually discovers a side of himself that he suppressed after witnessing the abduction of his own sister years before.

Dodging assassins, corrupt generals, evil medicos, Mossad agents, corrupt bureaucrats, and sharks, Mac ignores the order to stay out of trouble and follows Sophia’s trail from Mexico to Paris, London and Dubai, and the island of Andaran, where Khalid and his henchmen are waiting…

Read an Excerpt

The girls’ fathers, Bob and Marvin, each carried a briefcase full of cash with a tiny GPS tracker hidden in a false bottom. They were both taller than the kidnappers, and through the scope Mac could read the pain on Bob’s face. The behavior of the kidnappers was still bothering him, but there was nothing he could do except watch. The leader held out his palm and waved his pistol like it was a flag. He addressed the fathers in accented English.

“You’re late. We think perhaps you do not want your daughters back, eh?”

“Sorry,” Bob said, his breathing short and sharp. “We took a wrong turn coming into the dam. The signs were confusing.”

The man grunted and glanced at the one with the knife. “Check them.”

Knife Man patted them down, searched their pockets, nodded the all clear.

“You have our money?”

“Of course.” Bob’s voice came through deep and confident in his earpiece, although the armpits of his shirt betrayed his anxiety. Be courteous but strong, Mac had advised him, otherwise they won’t respect you. Being a basketball coach undoubtedly helped. “And you have our daughters,” Bob said. A statement, not a question. He held out the briefcase. “Here’s the money. We didn’t contact the police.”

Several kidnappers gave a hearty laugh.

The leader smirked. “We wouldn’t be here if you had, gringo. But your daughters would be. With bullets in their heads.” He gestured to a kidnapper wearing a red bandana around his neck. “Abrirlos,” he ordered, and the man took both briefcases and unclipped the locks.

Contact Ian Walkley

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Whatever Happened to Poetry?

Our guest today is author, poet and storyteller Branch Isole, who writes of adult issues and emotions often experienced but not always voiced. His style and presentation casts reflective identity against a backdrop of personal responsibility choice or avoidance. Branch observes and comments on the motivations of our world, both clothed and bare. Writing and publishing in four distinct genre categories: poetry, spirituality, erotica, and self-publishing. His catalogue of works includes paperbacks, ebooks, greeting cards and inspirational gift mats. Visit his website for additional information at and please stop by and see him at Book 'Em North Carolina next February 23, 2013 at Robeson Community College in Lumberton, NC.
If you are like many people, the last or perhaps only exposure you’ve had to poetry was in a high school English class. For most readers’ poetry as a viable genre is either “MIA” or non-existent.  While poetry is often viewed as the forgotten member of the literary family, a majority of its devotees and followers are aspiring poets.

Why is poetry, literature’s original art form which has been with mankind virtually since its beginning, now thought to be ‘staid and archaic’ to the point of exclusion? The historical roots of poetry go back to the first humans who sat around fires telling stories of survival, traditions and ancestry. Their oral renditions retold to successive tribal generations set the stage for epic tales, which would become the mainstay of literature and theater for evolving empires and civilizations.

Poetic fables were often short morality vignettes, which would draw listeners into the action and character plights using a variety of expositions or expressions including rhymes, songs, choral refrains and descriptive dialogues to tell the story.

Throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance poetry achieved growth and glory as it provided both entertainment and education for masses of illiterate people. During the Enlightenment period of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, poetry attained a pinnacle position in literature, which then gave birth to its many diverse forms, eventually leading to the fundamentals and rejoinders of musical lyrics people have enjoyed singing since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and throughout the twentieth century.

Today most people have been exposed to or have assimilated poetic rhymes from childhood fairy tales and their earliest bed-time story experiences. Poetry’s pre-reading introduction has helped millions to form, learn and establish the foundational pillars of the reading process.

So where has poetry gone? Why does poetry currently live in the literary shadows? Poetry still offers readers opportunities for growth and enjoyment, because poetry is unique.

Only Poetry:

Can tell a story with a beginning, middle and end in bite sized, brief or concise formats and lengths.

Can offer an emotional pull and connection to every reader, regardless of age, gender, social, economic or political preference.

Can represent or jump from plot to plot, character to character, scene to scene with transitional ease.

May be employed as a style application for every other literary genre.

Makes use of themes, events, and lessons of life in quick and easy to read presentations.

Is the perfect match for a ‘Twitter’ reading world.

Where is poetry? It’s alive and well. You may have to look a little harder or dig a little deeper, but poetry is everywhere. Go ahead, read a poem today. You’ll recognize the joy of it, because a poet lives in each of us.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Book Publicity 101 - Part 2

Today's guest blog is from Carolyn Howard-Johnson, the author of so-called hard-to-promote genres ( and of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers, And, yes, she will be speaking at the Book 'Em book fair in North Carolina in February of 2013. It's part of her overall marketing campaign and a way to help other authors avoid the same promotion potholes she once fell into.

This is Part 2 of Book Publicity 101. Part 1 was posted yesterday.

How do you find the best help with publicity possible?

  1. Consider what you need and how much time you can put into it. Your budget may not accommodate a full-service publicist. You may not have the time to fully participate with all of those services.
  2. If that’s the case, consider people who will work with you piecemeal like BookinSync. You may need an online book tour. I like Denise Cassino's book launch service. Contact her at . It shouldn’t be too expensive to get help when you do it in bits and pieces. And when you work with others, many of the contacts you get from your service will become contacts for the life of your writing career. Or you may need help writing your first release so you can do it yourself. That kind of help is available, too, from people like Mindy Philips Lawence, .
  3. Before you hire anyone consider their Rolodex. I'm talking about a file of contacts that are real
    personal, working relationships with editors, radio hosts, etc. Ask what kind of publicity have they gotten for their other clients? Consider whether those contacts are people who might have an interest in a project like yours. A book publicist who has had mostly experience with mystery writers, deals mostly with books stores that dedicate themselves to stories about crime, and has a huge file of names of reviewers interested in psycho/thrillers probably won't be able to do you much good if yours is a literary novel. And vice versa.
  • As you have already guessed, you want someone who has clients similar to you. Check that out, but also check with the clients. Were they satisfied? If not, why not. Their expectations may have been different than yours. Further, if there were some gaps that you consider important, you may be able to negotiate with your newfound partner to include those services in the publicity package you are contracting for.
  • Am I speaking from experience? You betcha. And lukewarm results were not the fault of my publicist. She did a great job with what she had. She just didn't have what I needed! If you do your homework, you’ll be happier with your publicity campaign and your publicist will be able to help you reach your goals more quickly…and they’ll be happier with you.

    Today's guest blog is from Carolyn Howard-Johnson, the author of so-called hard-to-promote genres ( and of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers, And, yes, she will be speaking at the Book 'Em book fair in North Carolina in February of 2013. It's part of her overall marketing campaign and a way to help other authors avoid the same promotion potholes she once fell into.


    Thursday, August 9, 2012

    Book Publicity 101

    Today's guest blog is from Carolyn Howard-Johnson, the author of so-called hard-to-promote genres ( and of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers, And, yes, she will be speaking at the Book 'Em book fair in North Carolina in February of 2013. It's part of her overall marketing campaign and a way to help other authors avoid the same promotion potholes she once fell into.

    This is Part 1 of Book Publicity 101. Check back tomorrow for Part 2!

    If your name isn't King or Grisham or Roberts you've probably already figured out that you need to do a lot of publicity on your own because your publisher hasn't assigned a budget ample enough to shoot your book to stardom.

    That publicist can be you or someone else, but somebody's got to do it if you want your book to sell.

    I have a publicist friend who is also an author. He rightfully claims that he could never find a PR person who would do the same kind of job he does, including the time he spends on his own PR work. How could anyone argue with that? We all are our own best publicists, even if we hire someone else.

    But what if we don't have the time or expertise?

    We can learn to do it ourselves. After all, we are writers. We should be able to grasp the knack of how to write a release.

    But the best way to do it is to learn a lot about the marketing of books and then partner with expert publicists or people who can help you with specific projects like online book tours. And partnering with them in a way that won’t eat up your advance or cost you more than you’re likely to make on your book.

    Here are some suggestions for preparing yourself to be the best publicity partner around.

    1. Join organizations like SPAN (Small Publishers of North America) ( where you’ll learn to understand the world of publishing from every angle—your, that of your publicist and that of your publisher.
    2. Subscribe to newsletters sent out my experts in the field of publishing. Dan Poynter, John Kremer, Penny C. Sansevieri, and one of my favorite publicity gurus Joan Stewart are all online resources for getting online information that isn’t rooted in myth and gossip. You’ll learn tons from my Sharing with Writers newsletter, too. Subscribe by sending a SUBSCRIBE message to
    3. Take a class in public relations. The only way I know how to avoid drastic mistakes in choosing a class is to patronize your local college or attend writers’ conferences sponsored by universities.
    4. One of the most frugal ways to learn a new skillset is to read. Most of those who publish free newsletters like the ones I mentioned above have books that will get you off on the right foot. Find mine at

    The next question is how do you find the best help with publicity possible. Tune in tomorrow for tips!

    Wednesday, August 8, 2012

    Summer Reads

    Please welcome our guest blogger today, Sheryl Browne, who is visiting us through Goddess Fish Promotions. Now residing in Worcestershire, Sheryl Browne grew up in Birmingham, UK, where she studied Art & Design. She wears many hats: a partner in her own business, a mother, and a foster parent to disabled dogs. Creative in spirit, Sheryl has always had a passion for writing. A member of the Romantic Novelists' Association, she has previously been published in the US and writes Romantic Comedy because, as she puts it, "life is just too short to be miserable."

    Sheryl's debut novel, RECIPES FOR DISASTER - combining deliciously different and fun recipes with sexilicious romantic comedy, is garnering some fabulous reviews! Sheryl has also been offered a further three-book contract under the Safkhet Publishing Soul imprint. SOMEBODY TO LOVE, a romantic comedy centring around a single policeman father’s search for love, launches 1 July. The book, which also features an autistic little boy and his Autism Assistance Dog, has already been endorsed by Danemere Dog Rescue Centre and is currently being reviewed by Our Dog Publications with a view to future advertising. WARRANT FOR LOVE, bringing together three couples in a twisting story that resolves perfectly, is released 1 August.

    Sheryl will award a $20 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a $10 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn host.

    Please follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:


    After a turbulent marriage to a man who walked off hand-in-offshoot with something resembling a twig, divorced mum, Donna O'Conner, doubts happy endings exist. She'd quite like to find herself an Adonis with… pecs …and things. Alas, that's not likely, when her only interest outside of work is hopping her three-legged dog in the park, carrying a poop-scoop. In any case, Donna isn't sure she'd know what to do with an Adonis if she fell on one. When PC Mark Evans comes along, gloriously gift-wrapped in blue, however, she can't help wishing she did.

    Mark, a single father, is desperate for love. He doesn't hold out much hope, though, that there is a woman out there with a heart big enough to love him and his autistic son. Enter big-hearted Donna, plus three-legged dog. And now Mark has a dilemma. Pretending not to mind her house-bunny chewing his bootlaces, he's smitten with Donna on sight. Should he tell her his situation up-front? Announcing he has a child with autism spectrum disorder on a first date tends to ensure there isn't a second. Or should he skirt around the subject, which amounts to a lie? When one lie leads to another, can he ever win Donna's trust back? Admit that he didn't trust Donna enough to let her into his life?

    Somebody to Love has been made with love... love of animals. Sheryl Browne has done excellent research on assistance dogs for the handicapped, specifically their use with autistic individuals. With a focus on romance with police officers, appealing to all readers who love our boys in blue, the author's "teasing but not telling" style makes this read appropriate for anyone, including young adults and older teens.


    A Lost Little Boy…

    The bell tinkled overhead. The soft murmur of voices slowed and, somehow, Mark could sense his son’s nearness. He glanced at the shopkeeper. ‘There wouldn’t be a young boy?’

    ‘We wondered whose he was.’ She nodded, indicating a room beyond the shop-fronting area they were in. An Aladdin’s cave, stuffed full of toys and magical to a child’s eyes. ‘We were just about to call the police.’

    ‘Mine. My son,’ said Mark, his throat tight as he watched Karl wander through from the back room, his clear blue eyes wide with wonder, before they alighted on Mark. Then, they grew disconcerted, as if Karl knew he was in trouble, and Mark couldn’t bear that. He knew he should talk to him. Try to instil in him through firm repetition, that he should not do this sort of stuff. Instead, he walked over to Karl and bent down to hug him so tight, he could feel his son’s heartbeat next to his own.

    ‘Hiya, mate. Did you get your model car?’ he asked throatily, knowing Karl wouldn’t, couldn’t hug him back. Trying hard not to mind, Mark stood to ruffle Karl’s hair. His fringe was tickling his eyelashes again, he noticed.

    Time for a trim, he guessed, recalling how, with his long dark eyelashes, Karl had often been mistaken for a girl as a baby. How his wife had joked he’d grow up to be a heartbreaker. Mark’s heart seemed to have broken, that was for sure.

    Karl shook his head. ‘No,’ he said, in that gruff, grainy voice that drew people’s stares. Mark didn’t care. At least Karl was speaking. He was two when he’d stopped, and Mark’s life changed forever.


    Leanne Curtis has shared more than her heart and her home with her womanising man. She's shared her pin number. The scales are peeled painfully from her eyes when she spots female footprints on the inside windscreen of his car. Devastated, Leanne storms off into the night. He wasn't going to pay her back when he sold his flat, his bolthole, his shag-pad, probably, the absolute…! Shivering on a street corner, Leanne comes up with a survival plan. She's no choice. If she's to keep her son in PS3s, Leanne needs a lodger.

    Brought up in care, Police Constable Paul Davis doesn't communicate well. On duty, he's gloomily contemplating his impending divorce. His wife sleeping with his sergeant is not helping his morose mood. His sergeant has a history, and Paul needs to find somewhere decent to live in order to gain custody of his son, fast. And to keep his job. Wrongfully arresting Leanne Curtis for soliciting, he muses, whilst avoiding five-star-freezer looks from her friends, might not be the best way to do it.

    Could fate have brought them together, though? Leanne needs a respectable lodger. Paul needs a home. One thing leads to another, and Paul can't quite believe his luck. When a blackmail plot ~ cooked up by Leanne's friends ~ threatens their budding relationship, however, is Paul compelled to uphold the law? Or will he risk everything to make sure Leanne's abusive ex gets his comeuppance?

    Warrant for Love is not your typical rom-com where only one gal gets the guy — Sheryl Browne brings together three couples in a twisting story that resolves perfectly. With a focus on romance with police officers, Warrant for Love appeals to all readers who love our boys in blue. Complex yet everyday relationship problems makes this read appropriate for young adults and older teens.


    'Dad!’ James exclaimed, hurtling out the front door.

    ‘Hi, small-fry.’ Paul ruffled his hair. ‘How’s things?’

    ‘Cool.’ James grinned. ‘I got one,’ he said excitedly. ‘A Play Station Three.’

    Paul forced a smile. ‘Yeah, that is pretty cool. Mum get it for your birthday, did she?’

    ‘No.’ James skirted around Paul to the car. ‘Uncle Dave.’

    Figures, thought Paul. Motive: one-upmanship. Cummings wouldn’t give a damn about what James wanted otherwise.

    ‘Wasn’t that nice of him,’ he said, with bitter-edged sarcasm as Kate appeared with James’ overnight bag. ‘Guess that means I’ll have to think of something else to get him for Christmas.’

    ‘Paul…’ Kate began. ‘We didn’t know you were going to get him…’

    ‘Forget it.’ Paul shrugged. Every time he tried to put hostilities on hold… ‘Have to see if we can’t get you some games for it, won’t we?’ he called to James over his shoulder.

    ‘Cool. Dead or Alive. Ben’s got it. It’s ace.’

    ‘Great. How much?’ Paul nodded his thanks to Kate as she handed him the rucksack.

    ‘Forty pounds,’ said James, scrambling into the passenger seat. ‘Is that okay?’

    ‘Yes. No probs,’ Paul said, wondering how he was ever going to pay solicitors fees and maintenance, as well as providing a decent home for James along with the things he should as a father.

    ‘We can get it,’ Kate offered. ‘Dave said…’

    ‘No thanks. Got it covered.’ American Express, Paul thought grimly as he turned to the car. That’ll do nicely.

    ‘Oh, and we’ll need a second control,’ announced James.

    ‘Why’s that?’ Paul asked, checking his seat belt.

    ‘So two people can play, of course,’ James explained, wearing his parents-are-past-it face. ‘It’s no fun playing on your own.’

    ‘Yeah, I know.’ Paul smiled, checked his mirror, and pulled out.

    ‘Can we have popcorn this time?’ James asked whilst Paul mentally tried to make his bank balance add up.

    ‘Not as well as McDonald’s, James. You’ll be sick.’

    ‘But Mum said.’ James flopped his head back on the seat, popcorn deprivation overriding Play Station euphoria.

    ‘I don’t care what Mum said, James.’

    ‘There’s no point going to the pictures if I can’t have popcorn.’

    ‘You don’t want to see Turtles in 3D, then?’

    James shrugged and turned to stare out of the window.

    ‘Look, James. No popcorn. But, what say we stop off on the way to the pictures? See if we can’t get Dead or Alive tonight?’ Paul tried to redeem himself in his son’s eyes, whilst wondering whether PC World would hire him part-time in exchange for the computer game.

    He shouldn’t give in so easily but he had to get something for James’ birthday, closely followed by an alternative to the Play Station for Christmas. The second choice on James’ Dear Santa list was a computer. At this rate, he’d have to resort to touting for business on street corners.

    His mind drifted to Leanne, his mouth curving into a smile as he recalled her quip about ten punters all in one night. He laughed out loud. Still couldn’t shake the image of her making eyes at passing traffic, wearing his police sweater and a sarong.

    ‘What’s funny?’ James asked.

    ‘Nothing.’ Paul straightened his face as he pulled up at the station. ‘Forgot my wallet,’ he said, trying hard to consign Leanne to history.


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    Twitter: @sherylbrowne