Archive for April, 2010

You’ve spent months pouring your heart and soul into a story, creating characters you hope people will fall in love with, hate and then fall back in love with. Characters that you know better than your children, heck they become your children. You agonize over a plot that will hold a readers interest, sweat out a few twists and turns and then create that happily ever after ending that the majority of readers die for.

Now, you sit down and type your fingers to the bone fighting with keys on your keyboard that simply won’t cooperate because they’re falling off. Over caffeinate your body so you keep on that grand, adrenaline pumping roll that you hope doesn’t dry up. Forget that your family needs to eat at least once a day because you’re so immersed in your fantasy world and bingo, you type the end.

The cursor sits winking at you. You wipe the sweat from your brow and scream at the top of your lungs because you’ve done it. You’ve completed a story that you know, well, pray people will want to read. Said story is accepted by a publisher. You sign that elusive contract that you’ve dreamed about, look at the gorgeous cover art someone has worked so very hard on and wait for the day your master piece releases.
Okay, now what. Now you have to find a way to promote this wonderful story. Push it out into the masses, shove it in their faces so they see that beautiful cover read your name and purchase this fictional work of art you’ve poured your soul into. (Face plant on desk.) How exactly do you do this?

This is where my nightmare begins. Let’s take a deep breath, focus the mind and think. I’d like someone to read my book and give me a review, let me know if my hard work turned out as well as I hoped. So, I hit review sites. Oh, look. I can advertise my book on their sites and holy cow, it isn’t that expensive and they’ll link my review with my ad. Yay! I’m promoting myself.

Is this enough? Should I do more? Of course I should, but what? Networking. Everyone says you need to network. What the heck is networking? I’m just not up on this internet lingo. Two, three days of hitting my publisher’s author’s chat loop and I find out I can network on places like Facebook and MySpace. How hard can that be? Actually, it’s pretty easy. Now I’m linked to wonderful people that read and write and have common interests and want me to listen to their music or buy their art or support their group. Oh my. This isn’t what I thought it would be. Still, I like it. It is a great way to get my name and work out there.
Not enough though. I need to do more. The chat loops say I need to have a blog. Blog, the word sounds like I have something stuck in my throat and I’m hacking it up. Ick. Never one to question those that know what they’re doing, I set up a blog. Now I spend hours reading as many blogs as I can to see what I’m supposed to write in this blog. Turns out, I can write anything I want because it’s mine. Yay me!
Blog, done. Now what? I have no idea. There has to be someone out there who knows how to help me promote my book. There just has to be. Sure, I could buy expensive ads in magazines but my budget simply won’t allow it. I could take out ads in newspapers but do those really work? Do I want to spend my time and money on a resource that I’m not sure about? Nope, not me.

So, I hit the search engines and start looking for someone out there who knows the ins and outs of the internet, has connections and experience. Easier said than done. I feel like I’m rooting through the proverbial haystack for that golden needle that will prick my finger and cure me of all my promotion ills.
Who knew self promotion would be so difficult? Not little ole naive me. Guess I learned a thing or two. But, then it happened. The clouds parted on my dismal self promoting life and the warm, golden rays of sunlight bathed me in salvation. There are people out there who know how to help promote me and my book. Happy Days!

Seriously, I’m not good at promoting myself and I have great respect for those that walked before me and learned the ropes the hard way. I bow to your tenacity and pray for one tenth of your courage. Picture the publishing industry as a pond jam packed with awesome writers looking for a way to put their book out in front of all the millions of others. If you don’t have support behind you, you’ll get lost in the crowd.
I know plenty of authors that are doing a wonderful job promoting themselves. I simply don’t have the time or resources they have. So, I need help from places like Pump Up Your Book and Author Island. They are great resources for me. Organizing chats, putting me in touch with popular blogs, helping me do interviews; it all helps me move toward my dream.

Promotion will always be difficult for me. I’d much rather spend my time writing. It’s my passion. I’m just thankful there are people out there willing to share their knowledge and experience to help me on my way. Happy Reading!

Robin Leigh Miller knows a little about finding romance in odd places. A retired dirt track racecar driver, she found love and adventure on the track. After three months of dating a fellow driver, he proposed and seven months later, they married. Now she gets her adrenaline rush from creating spunky, determined kick ass women that don’t let anything get in their way. Mix in her passion for paranormal, action and adventure and you have some unique thrilling stories. Enter a world where anything can happen and hold on tight. It’s a bumpy ride but worth the trip as you watch her characters plow through what life throws at them and come out the other side more powerful and of course in love. You can visit her website at www.robinleighmiller.com.

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I’m sure that it differs for each writer. We all have our quirks and idiosyncrasies, but for me, the poetry writing process is quite different than the fiction one. With fiction, it’s much more craft than art—with deliberate plotting, careful construction, character spreadsheets, and timelines. I’ve got to have a pretty clear outline before I start and tend to work in quite a regular, linear way, focusing primarily on the storyline and the character development as I progress. With such a long term process, discipline and scheduling is the only way to get on. With poetry, it’s very different.

I usually start with a concept or theme. I know, for example, that my topic will be Christmas. I need to write Christmas themed poems for a collection I’m pulling together with my writing partner Carolyn Howard-Johnson. But it’s May for crying outloud, and I’m so not in the mood to write about Christmas (not sure I was in the mood in December either!), so I need to find some twist or inspirational hit that will give my work something fresh and interesting to engage my muse. So I’ll go exploring. Usually, in my case, somewhere sciency like Scientific American, NASA, or New Scientist (the quality of their writing is excellent, and inspiration is always easy to find there).

Other pretty regular sources of inspiration for me are Seth Godin’s blog, where he recently did a post on The Levy Flight – about the random but regular patterns that animals take when foraging and how that might apply to marketing. This may not sound very Christmassy to you, but because poetry must be fresh, the combination of an idea like the Levy Flight and Christmas can often spark some fairly original thinking. I found a recent article on New Scientist about some new thoughts on a Theory of Everything, and began a piece titled The matrix, with its opening lines “Stuck in the attic, behind retired lights, cracked ornaments, and threadbare tinsel” and then let the images work almost intuitively, moving the poem into a region that develops as I begin playing with the images until there’s a very clear picture that I’ve presented. Once I’ve got it – the overall picture, then the revision begins, and like all writing, that’s where the real change happens. You must revise, and change and tighten, and eliminate superfluous words or any concept that isn’t crystal clear. With poetry, I would say that revision is even more important than other forms of writing because you only have a few words to convey a huge amount of meaning. It has to be perfect, tight, and evocative without being either too obscure, or too overt/trite.

That’s a balancing act that only comes with a lot of work on finding the perfect, exact word or image to illuminate what you’re trying to say. Nearly every decent poem I’ve written has been revised many times, and often (possibly always) with the help of someone objective.

Magdalena Ball runs The Compulsive Reader. She is the author of the poetry book Repulsion Thrust, the novel Sleep Before Evening, a nonfiction book The Art of Assessment: How to Review Anything and four other poetry chapbooks Quark Soup, and, in collaboration with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Cherished Pulse, She Wore Emerald Then, and the newly released Imagining the Future. She also runs a radio show, The Compulsive Reader Talks.

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In this comedy of errors, a young lawyer, Bradley Harrington Chester III, is not living his dream. He has married a gorgeous woman against his parents’ wishes, and his less than stellar performance at law school has earned him a job in the New Orleans district attorney’s office, instead of at his father’s prestigious firm. On his first day there he meets up with Richard Bleddon, the self-confessed golden boy of that office, and a man who will go to any lengths to keep his position. Which is proven true when Brad usurps him by stealing his big case away, and Bleddon arranges to have him murdered.

Brad has gotten through life because of a winning smile, surfer-blonde hair, blue eyes, high cheekbones, and a body sculpted by Michelangelo. But when a monster car runs him down in the street, and leaves him hanging out in a throng of gray figures shuffling into a bright light, it seems that his winning days are over, until Count Dracula approaches him. The Count tells Brad he’s given up his evil ways, and now plays violin in a band called the Techno Zombies. But more importantly he’s looking for a lawyer, and he offers to save Brad’s life with a transfusion of his own immortal blood.

Julia Harrington Chester III is supermodel gorgeous, but she isn’t stupid. She knows that the fairytale is swiftly disappearing from her young marriage, and she isn’t going to take it. So when Richard Bleddon invites Brad and her to a swanky restaurant for a fancy meal that he pays for, she resolves to tell Brad that she wants a divorce, and she does, just before he is cruelly run down in the street, crushed, and mashed to death. She cannot forgive herself for being so insensitive, but this is only the beginning of her ordeal, an ordeal that will test the bonds of love, into death and beyond.

Everybody wants something. Something they will go to any lengths to get. It could be love, it could be money, it could be honor, or it could be just to preserve one’s good name in the face of ruin. What lengths would you go to, to get what you desire, and if it meant crossing the line and committing a crime; would you do it?

The New Novel By George Earl Parker
Is Practically A Movie Playing In Your Head!


About the author:

George Earl Parker is an Author, Singer/Songwriter, and an Artist. As director of the short film The Yellow Submarine Sandwich, included in Eric Idle’s pseudo-documentary of a band called the Rutles, Parker received accolades, awards, and a showing at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. His art has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the country, and three of his songs have climbed the European Country Music Association charts.

Vampyre Blood-Eight Pints of Trouble is his first novel. He currently lives in California where he continues working on music, and his second book. You can visit his website at www.georgeearlparker.com.

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Hi all,

I’m doing the happy dance.

My article, “How to Coordinate Your Own Virtual Book Tour,” was accepted for publication by Bread ‘n Molasses Magazine.

You may read it HERE.

I hope you’ll find it informative.


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Gerald Costlow lives in Michigan surrounded by his Wife and dogs. During the past five years or so, his short fantasy stories have been published in various magazines, webzines, and anthologies. The Weaving is his first published novel but certainly not the last.

Welcome to the Dark Phantom Review. Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write it?

The Weaving is a love story, a quest, and a struggle between good and evil. It takes place in a land of witches and wizards, gods and demons, humans and elves. Yet, it is a fantasy world just a little bit different from what you’d expect.

As for what inspired me to write it, I had an idea for a good witch who reads romance novels and wants her own Happily Ever After, and sets out on a quest to find her True Love. It started off as a short story, but several plot twists later became a novella, and finally I just said to heck with it and let the characters free to create the type of story I wanted to read and write.

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

I don’t outline beyond a list of ideas and scenes that might make it into the story. I take my characters, put them in the scene, start typing and see what happens. I consider my writing to be character driven, to the point of being like some actor’s improv session, with me playing all of the actors and the director.

Do you use index cards to plot your book?

I build the book chapter by chapter using individual files. I have a directory for the book filled with files named Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Ending, and so on. The file might contain only a couple of paragraphs with a general outline of what is going to be in the chapter, or it might be a completely written six thousand words. If I decide to add chapters, I just do some quick renaming. In the end, I do a paste and bring the scattered chapters together into one novel for several more edits.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?

Well, there have been times when I lacked the energy to write. If I grow tired of working on one story or feel less than inspired, I just put it aside and work on a different story. Then later on, I’ll be reading what I have and the muse will kick into gear and off I’ll go. I think writer’s block comes from trying to force yourself to work on only one story.

What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?

Writing. I’m a fast touch-typer, so I lose myself into a world of make-believe and constantly amaze myself with what ends up on the page.

What type of book promotion seems to work the best for you? Share with us some writing tips!

In my case, the best promotion seems to be reaching out to the potential audience on the web. For instance, my story can be defined by some readers as a crossover fantasy/romance. It’s not a steamy bodice ripper, but there’s a huge market for “paranormal romance” with websites and blogs and such and my book certainly qualifies as romantic. So I joined some groups, got to know some of the writers and reviewers, and found out where to post information about the book.

Writing tips? Don’t try to be another Tolkien or Rowling or Neil Gaiman or whomever you love to read. They do their thing better than you ever will. Find your own voice and style, and have fun writing the stories you want to tell.

Do you think a critique group is essential for a writer?

Some sort of feedback is essential, or you won’t improve. I learned quite a bit from several online critique groups. I learned more from analyzing what other people were doing right and wrong than reading the critiques of my own work, though. I’m still learning.

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

The best website for now is the author’s page at Pillhillpress.com. You will also find a link there to my personal webpage, where I link to several anthologies in print that contain a short story of mine.

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

Oh, yes, I have one novel I’m putting the final polish on, a comedy of errors. I have a novella length story I’m sending around right now. Already people who have read The Weaving are asking me when they’ll get a sequel. Well, if there’s enough interest in this book, then I’ll definitely give the people more.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

I hope you have as much fun reading The Weaving as I had writing it.

Thanks for the interview!

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My guest today is young author Estevan Vega, whose third novel, ARSON, will soon be released by Tate Publishing. Estevan has been my guest before in the past and it’s a thrill to have him here again.

Congrats on the release on yet another novel, Estevan! What is your writing schedule like and how do you juggle it with your studies?

Thanks, Mayra. Yeah, it took a crazy long time to get here, but ARSON is finally gonna get out to the world. The release date is set for May 4, so mark your calendar. It’s funny you should ask about my writing schedule, especially because I don’t really have one. Yes, I’m afraid it’s true. I write when I can and sometimes that’s not always as much as I should be doing. It gets sorta complicated with school and a life and right now, promotion ARSON. So, yeah, that’s my excuse for not writing as much as I should. As far as juggling, I’m becoming quite skilled. Well, kinda.

What do your teen peers think of your career path and early success? Do you think it has inspired them?

When I was in high school, many of the kids saw my publishing a book as a reason to make a stupid joke at my expense. It was lame, but I did go to an all-guy school, so it somewhat comes with the territory. It’s better in college, though. Kids tend to see it as more of an accomplishment than they did a few years ago. So that’s cool. I think they do see it as something to aspire to, yeah. The kids who write anyway.

To what do you attribute your dream of becoming published? Not many teens are focused on ‘getting published’ the way you were.

Well, when I was in fifth grade I couldn’t stand writing or reading, for that matter. If it weren’t for my father’s guidance and “push” I probably wouldn’t have done it. I mean, yeah, I thought an author’s life is all fame and money, but once I started writing, I realized how far-off I was with that theory, and I still am doing it. I’m not sure why I decided to stick with writing longer than any other thing, but I have, and now, no matter how hard it gets, I’m always brought back to it. It’s like a part of me that won’t let me go.

How has your writing evolved since your first book came out at age fifteen?

Oh, it’s definitely evolved. I look back and read pages of Servant of the Realm and go, ‘man, did I write that?’ But it’s all part of the growing process. I can’t expect to write like a twenty-one year old when I’m fifteen. But there are hints of things to come within those pages, and that’s cool, to sorta watch my progression between each book. It’s definitely taken some time, but the journey is all worth it.

Do you do character profiles before sitting down to craft your fiction?

Not really. I just sit down and start creating a character. Depending on which book I’m writing, the characters tend to have different themes running through each of them, and sometimes they cross over depending on what I’m trying to say with each story. The characters tend to just sorta create themselves as the story goes, with me making changes here and there. It’s fun to watch them progress from page one until the end.

What was the most dificult aspect of writing ARSON? The most fun?

I had the most fun and the most difficulty writing ARSON, to be honest. I love the story more than anything I’ve written. And I can think of several reasons why, but the thing about ARSON is that it took the longest to get out there to the public. I mean, I got the concept in the fall of 2006 and it’s finally coming out nearly four years later. Both Servant of the Realm and The Sacred Sin took about three years. So, I’ve spent so much time on this thing, trying to get everything perfect, you know. The most fun was writing the story arc between Arson and Emery. I just fell in love with these characters. Watching their story unfold was so cool. The most difficult part was probably choosing how it was going to begin and end. I changed both ends of the book several times, asking people for opinions and choosing which ideas I thought would fit the story best.

How do you celebrate a new contract?

When I got the contract for ARSON I was a little shocked. I had been e-mailing the publisher back and forth about the manuscript and he seemed interested but didn’t really want to budge on anything. Then out of left field he sends me a contract. I was, like, whoa! I didn’t think he was that interested. So I called my dad and we celebrated over the phone, since I was at school. It was a great feeling.

What would you say to young people who dream of becoming published authors?

Don’t let that dream die. Critics will scare you. The current book market will scare you. Your own family and friends might scare you, but if it’s in your blood to write, then write.

Thanks, Estevan, and best of luck with your book!

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