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Archive for August, 2007

Now Available from Whiskey Creek Press!

darklullaby_72dpi.jpg

DARK LULLABY by Mayra Calvani
Genre: Horror
SubGenre: Thriller
EBook formats ISBN: 978-1-59374-908-8, $5.99
Trade paperback ISBN: 978-1-59374-907-1, $12.95

Order now from the Publisher.

Also at Amazon.

Read an excerpt here.

Back Cover Blurb:

At a trendy Turkish tavern one Friday night, astrophysicist Gabriel Diaz meets a mysterious young woman. Captivated by her beauty as well as her views on good and evil, he spends the next several days with her. Soon, however, he begins to notice a strangeness in her—her skin’s abnormally high temperature, her obsession with milk products, her child-like and bizarre behavior as she seems to take pleasure in toying with his conscience.

The young woman, Kamilah, invites him to Rize, Turkey, where she claims her family owns a cottage in the woods. In spite of his heavy workload and the disturbing visions and nightmares about his sister’s baby that is due to be born soon, Gabriel agrees to go with her.

But nothing, not even the stunning splendour of the Black Sea, can disguise the horror of her nature. In a place where death dwells and illusion and reality seem as one, Gabriel must now come to terms with his own demons in order to save his sister’s unborn child, and ultimately, his own soul…

What readers are saying…

While Gabriel Diaz debates philosophy with his ex-girlfriend, Liz, in a bar, the two of them arguing hotly about the discrepancies between law and justice, and the notion of ‘higher good’, they are approached by a mysterious young woman, Kamilah, who fuels their discussion with the concept of corrupting a good and noble soul, and the notion of ‘ultimate evil’.

Young and blindingly attractive, Kamilah proceeds to seduce Gabriel, who succumbs readily to her spell. Even though he has promised to visit his pregnant sister in Belgium in time for the birth, Gabriel agrees to accompany Kamilah on a trip to her family cottage in Rize in the mountains on the Black Sea. There, amidst the splendour of the Turkish countryside, strange things begin to happen. First he loses his cell-phone, his one link to the outside world. Then he begins to feel physically ill. With terrifying nightmares, hellish hallucinations and threatening encounters assailing him from all sides, Gabriel is plunged into a maelstrom of inexplicable, supernatural events that threaten not only his very sanity but his integrity as well, not to mention the peace of mind of his twin sister far away in Belgium.

For Kamilah is not the young innocent she appears to be, and she has an agenda that is both shocking and bizarre. It will take all Gabriel’s strength of mind to resist being corrupted by her, as well as courage and ingenuity for him to escape from her clutches. And even then it might be too late…if not for him, then perhaps for his niece yet unborn and therefore highly vulnerable.

Dark Lullaby is an atmospheric paranormal horror that grips you from page one and refuses to let go until you’ve raced, breathless, to the end. The prose is so smooth there are no speed bumps as you devour the entire novel in one or two sittings. The exotic setting of the Turkish countryside is detailed and enjoyable, and the characterization of Gabriel, Kamilah, and even Liz (with her conflicted feelings towards Gabriel) is superbly handled, making all the main characters come to life. The subject matter is chilling and spooky, and the suspension of disbelief is constant. Highly recommended for fans of paranormal fiction, especially horror aficionados, though there is nothing to stop other readers from enjoying this too. Only make sure the more faint-hearted among you do not read this alone at night. You have been warned.

–J.C. Hall, author of Lady of the Lakes

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Welcome to The Dark Phantom Review, Dorothy. It’s a pleasure to have you here. As I can see, you have many hats. Why don’t you start by putting on your publicist hat and telling our readers what a publicist can do for an author that the author cannot do himself?

dorothy2.jpgHi, Mayra, and thanks for asking me to be here! First let me begin by saying that I’m an advocate for learning how to do things yourself. If I know how to do it and you need to know how to do it, I’ll teach you to do it. For some, it doesn’t come as easy as it does for others. Not saying you aren’t as smart, but maybe you’re just too overwhelmed with editing or are on a deadline and you can’t do everything. That’s when a publicist comes in handy. Because I am an author much like the clients I represent, I have been in their shoes. I know their frustrations and that’s why my approach is very hands on with them. I have a client who is getting ready to go on tour in a couple weeks and he needed a book blog to aid him in his virtual book tour, but as he had never blogged before, much less set one up, he needed my help in setting one up which I did and which you can see at www.partiallyhuman.blogspot.com.
Now, this guy isn’t dumb. He’s almost 24 years old and has three books published. But, there are just some things he’s not familiar with and I’m finding this is happening a lot because when an writer becomes an author for the first time and even for the eleventh time, his or her first instincts are to set up booksignings, maybe invest in bookmarks, that sort of thing, and maybe set up a website. But, blogging…I don’t think many authors realize the potential blogs have in aiding to sell your book. So, that’s a little part of what I do that some authors can’t do. But, I find it funny…once I set the blog up for them and explain what to do after that, they become blogging fanatics. Now, that really makes me happy.
I think what authors don’t realize is that if they spent as much time on the Internet – and that’s what I specialize in – as I do, they would learn everything there is to know about online promotion but it has to be a 24/7 thing. A lot of authors just don’t have that amount of time to put into promotion simply because they have books to write, edit and revise. That’s where a publicist comes in. They do the work so you can do what you do best and that is write. However, I do encourage all my authors to do some kind of online promotion every single day.

Tell us a bit about your company, Pump UP Your Book Promotion, and your mission.

I started Pump Up Your Book Promotion in April ‘07, so we haven’t been in business very long but business is booming. To tell you the truth, I’m not even sure what happened except one thing led to another. I started out by getting a call from an online friend who wanted me to promote her book online. She was a member of a couple of my writing groups and had listened to the various ways I was showing people how to promote online and she insisted on paying me to promote hers. I thought she had lost her mind because I wasn’t a publicist. Little did I know, but this was the beginning of my career as one.
I had just finished a virtual book tour myself, which I think was successful, so I suggested setting up one for her but I wanted to test my wings first. A lovely woman, Marilyn Celeste Morris, was my guinea pig. I sent her out in April on a virtual book tour for her book, “Once a Brat,” for my newly established company, Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours and I just loved it. While Marilyn was on tour, I was getting emails from authors all over who wanted me to set up their virtual book tours, too. And it hasn’t let up since.
Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours is part of Pump Up Your Book Promotion, a public relations firm specializing in online promotions. There are lots of reputable public relations firms that deal mainly with offline promotion and I thought why not fill that void – that online book promotion that most public relation firms are not concentrating on.
What we do is aim for extensive recognition in the search engines by showing these authors how to get their books in the # 1 position in the search engines for their key search words. By the time their tour is over, if they have properly used these search words in different areas I have instructed them to, it’ll happen.
The main purpose in this is that your virtual book tours are perpetual. They keep on promoting you long after your tour is over if the blog host keeps your interview/guest post/review/whatever on their blog. By creating this enormous online presence, your virtual book tour will be a success.

What is the hottest thing in book promotion right now? Why?

Great question, Mayra! The hottest thing in book promotion right this very minute I have to say would be videos and podcasts. Readers love visual and audio. If they go to a website or blog and there’s a visual or an audio, they feel as if they’ve gotten more value out of their time spent there than if they were there just reading text. You need to appeal to the senses. Virtual book tours are hot right now and combined with the visual and audio aids, you’ve got a real good chance at creating a great campaign.

How easy/difficult is it for an author to plan a virtual book tour?

LOL, ask my authors. I have an article up at http://pumpupyouronlinebookpromotion.blogspot.com/2007/08/real-world-of-virtual-book-touring.html called “The Real World of Virtual Book Touring” where I’ve had my recent authors give me input on how much work there is even when having someone plan their tours for them. Most of them said they had no idea it was going to be a lot of work. I put in 81 hours a week setting up and maintaining tours for about seven or so authors a month. The authors themselves put in an incredible amount of time answering questions and writing guest posts. If you do a months worth of tours, you have approximately twenty interviews and guest posts to get done. One of my authors told me it took a half hour just to answer one interview because they are really concentrating on making those search words count.
But, back to your question, it is hard but very doable. If you are setting up a tour yourself, you are querying blog hosts, keeping track of dates, answering questions and more than likely writing guest posts, then you are following up. When I was on my own virtual book tour back in November ’06, I remember it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. And I do remember breathing a sigh of relief when it was over, lol.

How can authors find out which blogs have the higher traffic for their book’s genre?

Ahhh…trade secrets revealed. Alexa.com gives rankings for blogs (or websites) and compares them to other blogs of similar content. Someone told me recently that so-and-so blog must not have a lot of visitors because no one comments there. You can’t judge a blog by comments. I know a lot of high profile blogs where people just don’t comment, so you can’t judge a blog by that.
If you go to Technorati, for instance, and put in your key search words, you’ll get blogs come up related to those words. Take the url of those blogs over to Alexa and do a comparison. Takes time, but it’s the only way you’ll at least get an idea of the blog’s status.
Technorati is the world’s largest blog search engine, but there are many blog search engines out there where you can do this.
Book trailers can be very expensive. Are they really worth the cost in terms of book sales?
Book trailers are just like anything else you spend money on to promote your book. Will you make it up in sales? The jury is still out whether or not they are convincing people to buy these books, but they most definitely couldn’t hurt. The way I look at it is, if you’d spend a hundred bucks on bookmarks, why not book trailers? Will you get your money back? Well, the thing is, you want to be noticed and book trailers are one way to do it. Authors spend an incredible amount of money on book promotional items, so why not trailers? I just started a new thing at Pump Up where anyone who purchases the gold package can get a free virtual book tour promotional video to advertise their tour. These trailers can be seen at YouTube, Google Video and Yahoo Video, among other video websites. If you’d like to see the one I’ve got for Caridad Pineiro who will be touring in September, go to http://youtube.com/watch?v=tLzUXLZlyTg&eurl and the most recent one I made was for Hazel Statham who will be touring in September, also. You can see hers at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzgsRo4ZLHA. So, I’m playing around with this area of book promotion and we’ll just see how that goes.

What do you think is the most common mistake authors make when promoting their book?

The most common mistake I feel they make is not realizing the potential of blogging and using those key search words. I have a lot of author friends who are blogging and still don’t know how to add tags to their posts. The potential is there, yet it’s not until you see it in action do you realize how many hits you could have gotten had you learned. I’ve got so many funny stories of how even executives and owners of huge corporations find blogging one of the most mystifying things and I try to explain that online promotion is one of the most valuable things you can give to your book’s campaign.

If you had to choose among all the various forms of book promotion–press releases, reviews, mailings, book tours, speaking and giving seminars, etc–which one do you think is the most effective for name visibility and book sales? Or are these two different things?

This is the easy. Speaking and giving seminars has to be the #1 way to sell books, plus you’re making an incredible amount of money doing it. That’s where the money is. What a lot of new authors don’t realize when they first get into this promotion thing is that they aren’t going to make enough off of royalties to quit their day job and most of their royalty checks aren’t anything to brag about. Sorry, but it’s the cold hard facts. Especially if part of their royalty checks are being divided by not only the publisher, but the distributor also. You make pennies at Amazon. We all want those high rankings but if you realized just how much you are making from those sales, you’d laugh. I have two authors right now on tour who are solely living off their speaking engagements and whatever royalties they get. Speaking and giving seminars, no doubt in my mind is where it’s at.
Now, if you’re not someone who loves to give seminars, aim online for those sales. Of everything you mentioned above, virtual book tours has got to be my most favorite, of course. If you’re looking for name visibility, go on one of these tours. People will get sick of seeing you all over the place! But, one person who will get tired of you the most will be our friend, the Google search engine. ;o)

You also keep a series of blogs which offer free promo opportunities for authors.

I have to laugh because in an earlier question, you asked me about how much is involved putting a virtual book tour together and I told you it took a lot of time on the author’s part…well…this interview, for example, has taken almost two hours to complete. Multiply that by 20 and you’ll see just how much time goes into one.
Okay, my promo blogs! What I’ve done is create quite a few promo blogs to help authors promote their books and all of them are absolutely free. Here they are by alphabetical order:
As the Page Turns
Author Talks
Be My Guest!
Book Publishing Secrets of Authors
Plug Your Book!
Plug Your Book Trailer!
Straight from the Author’s Mouth
The Story Behind the Books
The Writer’s Life

Tell us a bit about your book promotion book.

promoteebook6.jpgMy book promotion book is actually a self-published ebook titled “A Complete Guide to Promoting and Selling Your Self-Published eBook.” A lot of the principles in the book I am using to help my clients promote their books through these tours. Don’t let the “self-published ebook” fool you…it can be used to promote your print or otherwise published book, also. The main goal of this book is to show authors how to and where to promote online. You can visit the webpage at http://www.pumpupyourbookpromotion.com/BookPromotionEbook.html. As a matter of fact, I’m offering a freebie to go along with the purchase of the promoting ebook. You can get absolutely FREE the radio promotion ebook, 101 INTERNET RADIO SHOWS TO PROMOTE YOUR BOOKS. This is a limited time offer, but it’s a great deal while it lasts.

Putting your author and relationship-expert hat, please tell us about your other books.

Oh, my goodness, I have to tell you, of all the books I have, ROMANCING THE SOUL, is very dear to me because the book wouldn’t even have been thought of if not for a dream I had when my twin soul came to me and told me to put this together. I know it sounds new-agey, but it really happened. ROMANCING THE SOUL is a collection of true soul mate stories and was published by Zumaya Publications. My other book I co-wrote is titled THE SEARCH FOR THE MILLION $$$ GHOST and that’s about an eccentric millionaire’s quest to find the ghost of his late wife and he’ll offer them a million dollars to do it. I co-wrote that with Heide AW Kaminski and Pam Lawneczak. Both books can be found at Amazon.

Who is Dorothy Thompson, the lady? Describe an ordinary day in your life.

Try overworked? Goodness, you don’t even want to imagine what I go through. The Pump Up business keeps me at it 24/7. I love it, but it’s an extraordinary amount of time involved to keep it running. If you’re not making sure the present tours are running smooth, you’re finding tour hosts for the next set of authors going out. It’s more involved than you could ever imagine…lots of sleepless nights and plenty of caffeine, but you know, I live for this. I have met so many wonderful people and a lot of them have become lifelong friends. Not only that, the blog hosts I do want to mention have been incredible. Everyone has really made this such an incredible experience and I hope the authors leave with the same feeling. I do give it my all because I’m a perfectionist when it comes to having others trust me to do what they paid me to do.

As an author and publicist, what is your greatest reward?

It’s got to be the people I have become involved with since I started Pump Up. We have an incredible lady who is working with me now named Nikki Leigh (www.nikkileigh.com) who basically saved me when my last partner left. I do want to mention her because at the time she came on board, I was handling seven authors on my own and she agreed to take one for me, thus lifting my workload. It’s incredible the amount of time you spend for just one author and handling seven at one time was a bit much even for me. She is incredible, fast and knows the business and knows how to promote. That’s what I look for in a partner because this type of business, you have to know online promotion. She’s a whiz, that’s all I have to say.
But, it’s also people like you, Mayra, because if it weren’t for the many blog hosts who we have contracted to host these tours, there would be no Pump Up. I thank you and all of my authors thank you and everyone else who have helped make Pump Up a success.

Leave us with some witty words of wisdom.

LOL, at 1:14 in the morning, you want words of wisdom. Okay, here’s the lowdown. Don’t underestimate the power of virtual book tours. While you look over the different stops that my authors appear on and you start to thinking that it looks like a bunch of tours thrown together, what you aren’t seeing are the ways we use these stops to further promote your tour. There are press releases being sent out that ends up in Google News. We announce your stops on writer’s boards and social networking sites. We are submitting your interviews to publications that end up in Google News, also. We go the extra mile. What the casual observer sees is not the whole picture. Ask the authors. They know what they have been through answering interviews and writing guest posts. It’s a lot of work to all involved, but what happens is that all those interviews and all those guest posts end up being archived, thus your virtual book tour is perpetual. That’s the beauty of online marketing and the power of virtual book tours.

Thanks, Dorothy!

Thank you, Mayra! It’s been a pleasure!

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Stopping by the Dark Phantom this weekend is Karina Fabian, whose book, Infinite Space, Infinite God, just earned her an EPPIE Award this year. Welcome to The Dark Phantom, Karina! It’s nice to have you here. How is your virtual tour going so far?

Hi, Mayra! I’m laughing, because I’m writing the answers to your interview in June! That’s the beauty of a virtual book tour—you can get so much of it done ahead, and then the month runs on automatic. I am pleased to report, however, that at this time, I have scheduled 25 blogs, two podcasts, and two live chats, covering a wide range of interests from science fiction to literature to religion. Many of the blogs are interviewing me or reviewing the book. I can’t even imagine getting this kind of participation from print magazines and radio. And I can do it all in my pajamas!

Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about your book, and what inspired you to write such a story?

infinitespace_e_cover.jpgOur anthology Infinite Space, Infinite God is thought-provoking science fiction with a Catholic twist. Readers will find just about every SF approach from space opera to dystopia to SF mystery. The topics span time and space travel, genetic engineering and animal/human hybrids, alien encounters and interplanetary colonization. The slant, however, is exploring how the Catholic faith will play and be defined by all of these developments. We have Catholics leaning on their faith, physically and mentally, to survive incredible catastrophes. We have Catholic traditions challenged by dystrophic environments and priests and nuns living and working in space. The book however, is an exploration of possibilities, not an evangelization piece for the Catholic Church. The best of SF asks, “What if?” and that’s what ISIG does.

The contributors span a wide range of experience, but all have incredible storytelling talent, which is why ISIG won the EPPIE award for best electronically-published science fiction of 2006. It’s also gotten some terrific reviews from people of all or no faith. I’m so tickled it’s gotten so much acclaim—and it’s only just coming into print! August 15 is the launch date. The inspiration for ISIG comes from Rob’s and my faith and our love for science fiction. We actually met because of our love of Star Trek. However, most science fiction completely ignores faith, and that bothered us. Humankind will not outgrow a need to love God anymore than we will outgrow a need to think or imagine or create. As Catholics, we also didn’t believe it likely that a faith that has survived essentially theologically unchanged over two millennia of change would die out because humans get new tech toys or meet an interstellar neighbor.

In 1996, Rob and I had developed a near-future universe in which humans were just starting to colonize the solar system, and group of nuns, the sisters of Our Lady of the Rescue, conducted search and rescue operations for the spacers. When a friend on the Catholic Writers Online started an e-book press, we suggested a story collection, but she wanted a broader-reaching anthology. Leaps of Faith was born, and became an EPPIE finalist. It caught the attention of a Catholic publisher—a big one—who suggested a Catholic-exclusive anthology. We put together Infinite Space, Infinite God, but they decided against taking a chance on genre fiction. A year or so later, Twilight Times picked it up and we’re so glad!

There’s been a great rise in Christian literature these past few years. To what do you attribute this?

I think folks are coming around to our way of thinking. (Wink) I believe readers are looking for books that don’t ignore or brush off the faith aspect of the human condition. I don’t know for certain about fiction for other religions, whether it ever died out or if it is now resurging as well, but as the future brings more wonders—and more uncertainties—we are finding a need to recall and cling to our Creator, in all aspects of our lives.

Christian literature as a subgenre itself is very specific, sometimes heavy-handed approach. Certainly it has its place; readers want, and at times need, that kind of affirmation. Personally, I don’t want ISIG pigeon-holed into that genre. This is mainstream SF with a Catholic theme.

I think, though, that the rise of Christian literature has opened the eyes of publishers, and that means good things for books like ISIG that acknowledge faith without evangelizing. We’ve seen it in the music industry; Christian rock has become very popular, but if you listen to country music, you’ll find significantly more references to God and church and prayer than you would have a decade ago.

Is Christian SF something new? Who started it? If you go to a bookstore, do you find them in the Christian section or the SF section?

C.S. Lewis wrote Christian SF; it’s been around as long as the genre. But you wouldn’t call it by that name. I’ve never looked for “Christian SF” in the bookstore, so I have no idea where or if you’d find it. Frankly, I think folks would have better luck on the Internet. If ISIG gets into the brick-and-mortar bookstores, we want it in the mainstream. That’s really our audience. However, we’re also working with Catholic and Christian bookstores to try to get them to include Christian genre fiction (beyond romance, which is big already.) After all, Christians enjoy science fiction, fantasy, even horror. They don’t look for them in a Christian bookstore because no one expects to find them in a Christian bookstore, but if owners stocked them and let people know, I think a following would develop. It’s about trying to reach everyone rather than pigeon-holing.

Right now, however, if you want to find Christian science fiction, you’re better off looking on-line. Here are a few I recommend:
Infinite Space, Infinite God (Twillight Times Books) (http://isigsf.tripod.com): but of course!
Light at the Edge of Darkness (The Writer’s Café): a heavier-handed but entertaining sampler of Biblical speculative fiction. These stories cover SF, fantasy, and horror and have strong sometimes evangelical Christian messages.
Flashpoint (The Writer’s Café): Biblical cyberpunk, but good enough to be mainstreamed.
Faith Awakened (www.faithawakened.com): Christian SF involving virtual reality as an escape from dystopia
Dragons, Knights and Angels; The Sword Review; Raygun Revival, and Wayfarer’s Journal: Christian SF and fantasy magazines.

Also check out the Christian Fiction Review Blog (www.cfrblog.blogspot.com) the first Sunday of every month to see what’s touring.
The Lost Genre Guild is dedicated to promoting quality Christian speculative fiction. Check out their blog as well.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this novel? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline? How long did it take you to write it?

It’s an anthology rather than a novel, so I can’t speak for all our contributors. Since we were mostly editing, we let the stories determine the flow of the book. We tried something a little different, as well, and put in some essays about the current Catholic Church to introduce the sections. It was done with the Catholic publisher in mind, but we kept them in. We hope that some Catholic literature courses will pick it up. In all, it took about a year and a half to gather stories, select them, edit them (some needed re-writes), write the introductions, and polish the manuscript.
For our own stories, they usually start out with an idea or a character. Rob and I will go out to dinner, discuss the idea and hash out the details. Then I go home and SOTP (seat-of-the-pants) write. I haven’t outlined a novel since my first one in college, and then I only outlined because the story was coming so fast, I couldn’t keep up if I wrote each word down. I’m also a character-driven writer, so they need to reveal their story to me. When I’m done with a story, Rob will go over it, redirect and edit, and I do the next draft. Until Rob retires, I’m the writer on the team and he’s the idea man. I think that will change when he has time and mental energy for writing fiction—then watch out!

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?

My writer’s block usually involves transitions. I’ve accomplished a task or finished a scene and since I don’t outline, my characters want to go out for coffee or take a nap and that really translates into *** or a chapter break. So I either take a shower and get into my character’s (awake and active) head, do something manual and mindless like clean house, or IM a friend and whine that I’m stuck. I love Yahoo! IM. I probably waste a lot of time on it, but I’ve also made some terrific friends and gotten some fantastic ideas, especially for my latest novel. (If you pick up Magic, Mensa, and Mayhem and love the cowbell scene, thank Ann Lewis.)
Rob and I had writers’ block on another Rescue Sisters story, but we hit on an idea while on the road to Colorado for a working vacation. To break past it we asked ourselves what hadn’t been done yet and how could we do it. In this case, it’s a story where a young man gets his Calling to the priesthood.

How was your experience in looking for a publisher? What words of advice would you offer those novice authors who are in search of one?

First the advice. KEEP LOOKING! Rejection is seldom personal: often the book doesn’t meet their needs, or is too far out to be worth the risk, or just not click with the editor. If you actually get back a useful rejection (“Couldn’t identify with the character,” “quality of writing not up to ours”) consider it carefully, make changes if you agree, but KEEP LOOKING!

Let you own goals dictate where you send it. For example, with ISIG, we went to some pretty big publishers first and worked down in size. In all ISIG took a year and a half to find a publisher. I’m doing the same with my trilogy The Miscria, and that one has been three years in the search, but mostly because DAW held onto it for two. However, for Magic, Mensa and Mayhem (a fantasy noir comedy), I went straight to a small press. That’s because I knew the publisher and she liked my characters, and I knew this book has a large but potentially limited audience: Mensa members. I think it will appeal to anyone who likes twisted cliché and fantasy humor, but I also recognized that most big publishers probably would not see it my way. Besides, this one is pure fun.
Overall, I advise against self-publishing, esp. for fiction. I also advise you to check out potential publishers. Even some self-proclaimed “traditional” presses are really more vanity press. Predators and Editors is a good place to look. Do a Google search on the publisher—folks with bad experiences will post. Also, pick a name or two out of their book list (not the ones who may have put “testimonials” on their website—that in itself is a warning sign), and e-mail them. Someone had told me about Twilight Times, and I knew one of their authors from a group, so I asked her about it before submitting. She loved TTB, and I am pleased with everything so far, too.
Incidentally, looking for a publisher is my least favorite part of writing. This is where it becomes a job rather than a vocation.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

Infinite Space, Infinite God – (http://isigsf.tripod.com): This is the dedicated site for the book: events, interviews, story synopses, reviews, book trailers. Its there for the curious to learn more about ISIG and for the press to get information for articles.
FabianSpace – (www.fabianspace.com): My personal website. It has my blog, a list of my works, descriptions of the universes I play in, a media room for the press, and my chat room FabChat, where I host live chats with authors and their fans every Thursday night.
Dragon Eye, PI – (www.freewebs.com/dragoneyepi/index.htm): The universe of Dragon Eye, PI. Usually, this is written in the character of Vern, the cynical “Sam Spade” of the dragon world. It has a list of stories, the link to the serial mystery I’m writing for The Prairie Dawg, and Vern’s own blog. I’ve got dragon and St. George stories and art from others, too.
I’m also on MySpace: www.myspace.com/karinafabian and ShoutLife www.shoutlife.com/karinafabian

Do you have another novel on the works? Tell us about your current and/or future projects.

Right now, I’m working on a fantasy noir comedy, Magic, Mensa and Mayhem. Vern, a dragon from the Faerie universe, and his partner, Sister Grace, a mage in the Faerie Catholic Church, are eeking out a living in the Mundane universe as private detectives for the particularly desperate. Bishop Aiden, however, sends them to a Mensa convention to chaperone the Faerie guests. It should be a cushy job, but when the Valkyrie Brunhilde goes on the prowl for men who don’t smell of mead, a dwarf heads to BillyBeaver™’s Fantasyland to “get discovered,” and elves high on aspartame want to declare war on Florida , their job goes from Chaperone to Supernatural Haz-Mat.
Next in line is to finish my SF novel, Discovery. This one involves the Rescue Sisters, assisting a mission to explore the first-discovered alien spaceship, which has been found crashed and abandoned in the Kuiper belt beyond Pluto. When Sr. Rita’s old flame shows up as part of the expedition, she can no longer run from her feelings. Will she forsake her vows for a human love? What discoveries does an ages-old alien ship hold for her—and how do they affect her faith?
We’ll also be collecting stories for ISIG II. If you’re a writer, look for an announcement in January!
In addition, I have regular author interviews in Hereditas Magazine, and host a live chat every Thursday 8-10 PM EST (9-11 PM after Sept 13). Go to www.fabianspace.com and click on FabChat. Hope to see you there.

Thanks for stopping by, Karina! It was a pleasure to have you here!

Thank you! I love virtual interviews, and you’ve been a terrific host. After all, you didn’t mind my being in my pajamas. 😉

Please remember that Infinite Space, Infinite God is out in print from Twilight Times Books August 15. (www.twilighttimesbooks.com) You’ll also be able to order it from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble online, or from your favorite bookstore

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The Dark Phantom recently had the pleasure of reviewing WHALE SONG. Click here to read the review.

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Welcome to The Dark Phantom Review, Cheryl! It’s nice to have you here. Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about your book, and what inspired you to write such a story?

Thank you for having me here.

Whale Song is an emotional novel about choices and consequences, suitable for adult and YA readers. It’s the story of Sarah, a young woman who is haunted by her past and by the assisted suicide of her mother. A teenaged Sarah moves from Wyoming to Vancouver Island where she is suddenly thrown into a world of racism, hatred, school bullying and more. Thankfully, Sarah befriends a native girl, and through stories told by her friend’s wise old grandmother, Sarah learns the legends of the animals around her–of Seagull, Whale and Wolf. As these legends begin to parallel her life, she moves through the tragedy of her mother’s death and the partial amnesia that has blocked out the truth, becoming a jaded young woman who has hardened herself to love and life. And then someone from her past returns to make her finally face all that she has forgotten. Whale Song is a mixture of coming-of-age, family drama and mystery, and it’s a novel that will change the way you view life…and death.

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The story was inspired from two separate influences. The first was a native legend I had heard when I was a teen growing up on the Queen Charlotte Islands (north of Vancouver Island). The legend stated that if you saw a killer whale close to shore, it was really someone’s spirit coming to say goodbye. The very thought of that haunted me and has always stayed with me. The second influence was the controversy surrounding the assisted death of someone who was dying a painful death. I wondered about that, about why it is so easy and acceptable for us to put down our family pet when they are suffering and yet we can’t find a more humane way to help the dying to pass on. The two elements combined, and for two years I played with the idea of writing Whale Song. And when the time was right…I did.

Did you have to do a lot of research about whales and Indian myths?

I pride myself on my research. If a writer wants a story to ring true and be believable, it’s vital to check facts and sources. I researched killer whales and myths for close to 2 months. There is so much material out there that I could have read about both subjects for years! I found the information on killer whales to be very enlightening, especially about echolocation and adoption. Since writing Whale Song, I have found some awesome sites, such as: http://www.orcagirl.com. There is just something about killer whales that intrigues and mesmerizes me.

And even though the main Indian or native myth was one I knew, I still believe in researching everything. As I began to delve into native folklore, I discovered so many stories that I had grown up with, and so many more that I had never heard. They all entranced me. And strangely enough, when I needed a story to fulfill a particular ‘duty’ or parallel a certain aspect of Sarah’s life, I always found one that was perfect. The Bridge of the Gods, for instance, was a legend I found fascinating. Of course, I won’t tell you…you’ll have to read Whale Song. 

How would you describe your creative process while writing this novel? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline? How long did it take you to write it?

For Whale Song (and all of my novels), I have allowed the story to brew and simmer in my mind. For two years I thought about writing it, and by then the characters were almost lifelike. Finally, I began. And yes, it was more a stream-of-consciousness event. Writing the story was like a journey in some ways…one that had been planned and plotted, the course already lined out. All I had to do was get from point A to B. And then to C. You get the picture. There was no struggle in writing the story—other than I can’t type fast enough to keep up with my thoughts. Like good beer or fine wine, the story had fermented into something wonderful when I gave it the time it needed. There was no outline, maybe a few notes. Whale Song was written, edited by me and 2 editors and at the publisher’s within 3.5 months.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?

No, writer’s block is not something I get. Part of me simply doesn’t allow it. I will, however, get “I can’t write now because I have to do laundry” block. Or “I don’t want to write it today because I want more than an hour to focus on it” block. But even when I am not working on my current novel, I always seem to be writing something—from posts on my blogs, to posts on MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/cherylktardif), to writing book reviews on other authors’ books. Every day I write. It is oxygen to me. 

The true secret in unleashing my creativity is the brewing, simmering and fermenting stage. Every novel I have written has swirled around in the somewhat murky depths of my mind for months, maybe years, before I start writing. All I need to do is think of the title and I am brought back into the plot instantly. It is much like watching a movie unfold. The stronger the ‘vision’, the more compelled I am to write it. And I get story plots from the weirdest things—often from my own fears or my dreams, which don’t seem to be as sweet and fun as everyone else’s. Sometimes I get inspired from seeing a word or phrase, or from the news.

How was your experience in looking for a publisher? What words of advice would you offer those novice authors who are in search of one?

I started searching for a publisher when I was about 18. I sent out query letters, outlines, synopses etc, but didn’t have one bite. I did, however, get a lovely collection of rejection letters. Since then I have collected more. I think I have enough to wallpaper my office!  Back in 2001, I started considering self-publishing again. I realized that if I took a risk and self-published that I would have a way to test my novels in the real world. And I would also have a track record of sales and experience to show to a traditional publisher. So I self-published 3 novels and found that being a published author was “it”. I had finally found myself. But my goal was (and is) always to be published by a big NY publisher like Bantam or Warner. I dream BIG…and in full color. So…if someone from Bantam or Warner happens to be reading this…please email me. I am also looking for an agent.

I receive lots of emails from aspiring or novice writers, and I tell them all the same thing. Self-publishing is a viable option, but you should pay your dues and submit to the traditional publishers first. Aim high! But keep in mind that less than 2% of manuscripts are accepted. To some, this may seem a defeatist attitude, but it’s reality. So be prepared to work hard and look for opportunities. I spent years doing it the “right” way and I don’t regret it. I learned so much. And I think that is one of the reasons why I was finally picked up by a traditional publisher. I had walked the walk. Self-publishing was an option and a choice. It won’t work for everyone. I think of it as building a ladder and climbing it, one rung at a time. You have to start somewhere—usually at the bottom–and work your way up. I meet too many authors who want the quick fix. There really is none. Just as you should be honing and perfecting your craft of writing, you should hone the business side. Getting published is business. And it’s not for everyone. That said, if you want it badly enough, MAKE it happen. Dare to dream…and dream BIG!

What type of book promotion seems to work the best for you?

I really enjoy book signings. That’s where I get to meet existing and potential fans. I love talking to people about my novels. But really, at a signing I only see so many people. The best promotion is online. Using my blogs, MySpace, and networking groups such as Ning, I am able to connect to hundreds of thousands of people every day…and I don’t even have to change out of my housecoat! Just like today! 

What is your favorite book of all time? Why?

I knew you’d ask me a really difficult question eventually. I have so many favorites, it’s hard to choose. But I guess the one that has always stayed with me is The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. King Arthur, Camelot, forbidden love, bloody battles, a mystical hidden island, beautiful women and handsome warriors…what more could you want? I loved being thrown into a world of conspiracies, damsels in distress, the heroes that rescue them–and the magic that surrounds them. Talk about escapism. And don’t we all need to escape once in a while? That’s what a good book does. It offers a retreat from reality…even for a short time.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

I have many sites and blogs. I’ll list the main ones here.
http://www.whalesongbook.com
http://www.cherylktardif.com
http://cherylktardif.blogspot.com

Do you have another novel in the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?

I always have other novels at various stages of completion. I recently finished Children of the Fog, a suspense thriller about a woman whose son is kidnapped—before her very eyes. This is one of those terrifying moments we never want to think about: if someone threatened to kill you and your child if you didn’t allow him to take your child, would you let him do it? I like to ask these kinds of chilling questions.

For fans of Divine Intervention, I must apologize that I have not finished Divine Justice. I am waiting to hear whether my new publisher (or another) wants to take Divine Intervention first. If they pick it up, then I will be free to continue with the series. I’m sorry it’s taking so long. If you want to, feel free to post to my guestbook on my publisher’s site. If you mention that they should take Divine Intervention and that you’re waiting for Divine Justice, they may just make a decision soon. http://www.kunati.com/cheryl-kaye-tardifs-guest-book (my publisher reads these posts).

I am currently working on: Divine Justice, Submerged and a terrifying thriller/horror (thinking of it makes MY skin crawl). I’m not sure in which order they will be published. I also have a list of 20+ future works, and I occasionally write short stories, some of which are now Amazon Shorts (Picture Perfect and A Grave Error), which you can buy for .49 cents on Amazon.com.

Thanks for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here!

Thank you so much for inviting me and for being part of my virtual book tour. I hope your readers will join me on my tour. I’ll be chatting about all sorts of things related to Whale Song and writing, and there will be prizes at some of the stops. 

To view my next stop, please see: http://www.whalesongbook.com/virtual-tour-2007

Interview by Mayra Calvani, aka The Dark Phantom

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The Frugal Editor
By Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Red Engine Press
publisher@redenginepress.comBranson, MissouriCopyright 2007
ISBN: 978-0-9785158-7-4
Paperback, 208 pages, $18.95

Reviewed by Mayra Calvani

The publishing world is so incredibly competitive nowadays, both aspiring and experienced authors who wish to succeed need to make sure that their submissions—be that queries, proposals, partials or complete manuscripts—are as flawless as they can possibly be. It goes without saying that these submissions must be free of spelling and grammatical mistakes; that’s only the beginning. Editors and agents pay attention to a lot of other amateurish mistakes in a submission. In this her latest book, award-winning author Carolyn Howard-Johnson reveals what those other mistakes are, what you can do to spot them on your manuscript and, more importantly, correct them.

Johnson demystifies how to spot dangling participles, gremlins of the passive voice (which stubbornly keep appearing after having edited your manuscript twice), and innocuous agreement errors, among other sneaky problems like overuse of adverbs and adjectives, gerunds, unnecessary question marks and exclamation points, handling possessives and apostrophes, hyphens, double adjectives, and more.

You’ll learn how to make the editing process more effortless, including how to set up your Word program to make markings easier, as well as manual and electronic techniques for spotting errors. The book also includes helpful sidebars with particularly important information on all aspects of self editing.
Johnson also discusses the most common amateurish mistakes writers often make. At the end of the book there is a chunky appendix with lots of pertinent and relevant resources.

One of the things I found more interesting about this book is the ‘inside’ information from the point of view of various agents. I also think Johnson gives very valuable advice when she recommends NOT doing the final two edits on the computer screen, but on printed copy instead. I particularly like the chapters on how to set up Word for optimizing the self editing process; I have read many books on editing but never came upon this practical element before. Moreover, Johnson writes in a friendly, engaging style, making the reading of this book both an enjoyable and enlightening experience.

Ideally, hiring a professional editor is the best way to go, but unfortunately, not every writer has the resources to hire one. Getting a copy of The Frugal Editor and using it as a reference guide is the next best thing. Highly recommended for authors who are serious about their work and willing to beat the odds.

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