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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Guest Post by Wayne Zurl: A New Prospect

Author Bio: Wayne Zurl
Wayne Zurl grew up on Long Island and retired after twenty years with the Suffolk County Police Department, one of the largest municipal law enforcement agencies in New York and the nation. For thirteen of those years he served as a section commander supervising investigators. He is a graduate of SUNY, Empire State College and served on active duty in the US Army during the Vietnam War and later in the reserves. Zurl left New York to live in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with his wife, Barbara. Ten (10) of his Sam Jenkins mysteries have been produced as audio  books and simultaneously published as eBooks or are under contract. His first full-length novel, A NEW PROSPECT, was named best mystery at the 2011 Indie Book Awards. A new full-length novel, A LEPRECHAUN’S LAMENT, is on the coming soon list at Iconic Publishing and will be available in print for early 2012.


Just One Guy's Honest Perspective on the World of the Post-publication Blues

Getting my first novel into print wasn’t an easy ride. From the day I wrote that first sentence on my yellow legal pad in the summer of 2006, to the day a signed contract showed up in our mailbox, the journey spanned four years. Prior to A NEW PROSPECT’s actual release in January 2011, I learned how some of the big names on the best seller lists took as much as ten years before their debut novels appeared. James Lee Burke mentioned once receiving 111 rejections before one of his earliest books got accepted by a publisher. So, I didn’t feel too bad.

Once my book was released and on all the data bases of the usual vendors, and I had my publisher’s press kit in hand, a new journey began—post-publication promotion and marketing. I had spent my entire adult life as either a soldier or a cop. I knew nothing about marketing, precious little about selling, and even less about the electronic media world. I didn’t know a tweet from chirp, a facebook from a facelift, or a blogspot from a sunspot. But I figured if I could convince a suspect it was in his best interest to write a statement admitting to one or more felonies, I could learn how to peddle books. I’m old-fashioned, so my first excursions began with arranging traditional book signings at the storefront bookshops near my home in east Tennessee.
I had seen pictorial accounts of famous authors sitting at a desk next to a five-foot-tall stack of their books, getting exhausted signing oodles of copies for a block-long line of their adoring fans. Don’t expect your first events to be that spectacular. I’m happy if I sell between four and seven books in two to three hours sitting in a retail store. Wouldn’t you know that the place where I sold out the entire stock of fifteen copies, Borders in Knoxville, Tennessee, went out of business? But success is a relative thing. I set up one Friday evening at a Hastings Book Store, right at the front entrance, next to one of those five-foot stacks of James Patterson’s latest mystery. I occupied a card table with a half-dozen copies of A NEW PROSPECT. Two and a half hours later, I packed up after scoring 5 books for me, while James sold none.

Don’t get discouraged if you only sell a few books at an event. You’re winning the hearts and minds of potential readers and book buyers when they take your business cards and/or one of the printed handouts you’ve prepared with a brief summary for your book(s)…HINT. Shoppers aren’t stupid. They may like a signed copy of your book, which might be worth a few cents more after you’re famous…or dead, or they may prefer to shop the Internet discount sites rather than pay retail plus sales tax.
Other writers surprise me when they say how terribly uncomfortable (or afraid) they are to meet their public at book signings. Considerate it part of the job. I had to learn how to become intimate with dead bodies in my former occupation, live ones are now a breeze. Speaking engagements are also part of the job. Start practicing—it really gets easier with experience. And remember the old public speaker’s trick to feel in control of a group. Imagine your audience sitting there in their underwear. That may be more exciting some places than at others, but if you’re laughing to yourself, you tend to lose stage fright quickly.
After much soul searching, you still can’t bare the idea of watching shoppers avoid eye contact with you and scurrying away from your table quicker than if you were trying to sell time shares? Maybe a virtual book tour is more up your ally. You may arrange these personally by networking with bloggers for reciprocal favors. But if you don’t maintain a blog and lack the time to thoroughly read and review other writer’s books, you can hire a publicist who will arrange stops with his or her stable of reviewers, interviewers, bloggers, and radio show hosts. I’ve done a two-month summer VBT and now I’m in the middle of a pre-holiday sales push. These virtual tours can be a lot of work. You MUST prepare intelligent, interesting, and sometimes wordy responses to an interviewer’s questions and quality guest postings for someone’s blog.  And be prepared to give away review copies of your book and prize copies to contest winners—that’s all part of the package, too.
Book tours are the glamour part of selling. The day-to-day reality involves posting clever and catchy blurbs on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google &, etc., ect. Follow the lead of some of your favorite authors to see how they handle it. Then be prepared to devote hours a day to “establishing an Internet presence.” Gads, I hate that phrase as much as seeing a Blue Screen of Death.
Here’s my take on this extremely necessary aspect of an author’s life: Writing is fun. Post-publication marketing is too much like work. But for me, it’s like saying, “I love to cook. I can’t wait to eat what I’ve made. But I hate to do dishes.” That little voice inside my head keeps telling me, “Suck it up, pal.”

~ Wayne Zurl

Synopsis:  A New Prospect by Wayne Zurl 

Sam Jenkins never thought about being a fish out of water during the twenty years he spent solving crimes in New York. But things change, and after retiring to Tennessee, he gets that feeling. Jenkins becomes a cop again and is thrown headlong into a murder investigation and a steaming kettle of fish, down-home style. 

In true Jenkins style, Sam turns common police practice on its ear to insure an innocent man doesn't fall prey to an imperfect system and the guilty party receives appropriate justice. A NEW PROSPECT takes the reader through a New South resolutely clinging to its past and traditional way of keeping family business strictly within the family.
Here are several ways you can keep up with author Wayne Zurl's literary journey.

Would you like to read Wayne Zurl's new book, A New Prospect? 

If so, check back after midnight where I'll be giving away a copy of A New Prospect along with other goodies that will be apart of 3 gift boxes. And just in time for the holidays.

Please leave a comment and tell me what you think about A New Prospect by Wayne Zurl?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Post Thanksgiving: A Week in Update

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday and weekend. I truly did. I ate well and spent some quality time with my family. My best friend and computer decided it wanted a vacation too, so she refused to come on for several days. Then Sunday, she just poof came on. We are best friends once again, for now.

Please help me congratulate two recent winners.

Monica V. won for the Turkey Trot Giveaway. Yay!!! 
And Angela B. won for the Gratitude Giveaway. Yay!!!

You could be a winner too, so stop on by and enter the Amazon Kindle Giveaway. 
But you can't win, if you don't enter. So enter today!

Welp, that's all I have for today. I'm going to catch up on some of my favorite blogs since my computer is fully functioning now. I also have some reading and writing to do as well. So a lazy kinda day spent in bed with a bowl of Fruity Pebbles. A productive pajama day I call it.

How was your Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lena's Kindle Touch 1,000 Followers Giveaway!

I'm so excited to have so many wonderful people following me on my literary journey. I said when I make it to 1,000 followers through GFC I would celebrate by giving away a NEW Kindle Touch eReader from Amazon. I have officially crossed the threshold. Woohooo! So it's time to give away a NEW Kindle Touch from Amazon valued at $99. The NEW Kindle Touch eReader will be mailed directly to you from To enter use the Rafflecopter form below. Also, this giveaway is open to U.S. and International participants. However, international participants please make sure that Amazon will deliver the Kindle Touch to your location. Otherwise, another winner will be chosen. I tried to give as many options as possible, not to make it complicated, but to give you more options to gain entries. You can complete as many options as possible or as few as you like.

Contest will run from November 23, 2011 thru December 18, 2011. Hopefully this gives enough time for the winner to receive their Kindle Touch by Christmas.

Prize: One (1) NEW Kindle Touch eReader from

Simple-to-use touchscreen, with audio and built-in Wi-Fi
  • Most-advanced E Ink display, now with multi-touch
  • New sleek design - 8% lighter, 11% smaller, holds 3,000 books
  • Only e-reader with text-to-speech, audiobooks and mp3 support
  • Built in Wi-Fi - Get books in 60 seconds
  • Borrow Kindle books from your public library
  • Exclusive EasyReach touch technology lets you read easily with one hand
  • New X-Ray feature lets you look up characters, historical figures, and interesting phrases. 
  • Must follow my blog through GFC, RSS or Email. 
That's it. All other entries on Rafflecopter form are optional. You can fill out part of the Rafflecopter form now and come back at a later time to fill out the rest if necessary before the giveaway ends.

Good luck in winning. And when I reach my 2,000 GFC follower milestone I'll have something just as great or better to offer for a giveaway. So thanks so much to all those who have stayed with me on this journey. I truly appreciate it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Best Gift Ideas for Book Lovers

The holiday is quickly approaching. It seems like every year it goes by faster and faster. I'm not a big get out there and shop til you drop type person. Or camping out early morning for shopping deals the day after Thanksgiving for Black Friday. I usually make a majority of the gifts I give by hand. This year I'll be making homemade body butter and hair cream. I made it last year and I receive requests for more after some recipients had run out. So my twelve year old daughter and I will be making it again. It's a great way for her to learn some of these techniques to pass on to her children someday. However, as a book lover and writer, I find I often get pens for Christmas from other family members. Don't get me wrong, I like pens when they aren't your normal Bic pens that come twenty in a pack (*hint, hint*). I've concluded that people sometimes just don't know what to get book lovers for Christmas aside from the usual books. So here are some of my suggestions for unique gifts for book lovers.

Handmade Books
There is a great selection of books out there that have been written by hand and decorated with a lovely handmade book cover. You can find lots of them on Etsy or if you want an heirloom handwritten book that is sure to impress, and money is no object, check out "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" by J.K. Rowling. This copy was handwritten and illustrated by the author herself. Six of these were made and given to her friends and editors. An auction copy was purchased by Amazon for $3.98 million dollars. That's one book that would need its own library complete with glass safe. Check out other expensive books if you have the money to spare.

Book Bling or Book Jewelry
I'm such a fan of book jewelry. My daughter and I use our mother/daughter time to make book thongs as I call them for our books or as gifts. It is a little time consuming, it takes us about three hours to make four or five book thongs, but they are so gorgeous and well worth it afterwards. And the quality time we spend together is priceless. But if you don't want to hand make your own book thongs, you can buy them at Book Jewelry or Etsy. If you want to make your own, view this how-to-video on Youtube. It's the one I used to teach my daughter. It's simple and easy.

Fun Cozy Book Furniture
This is a great gift for kids who love to read. Especially if you have a reading room or play area they can use to cuddle up with a book. I think they are adorable. Designed to look like books, they are soft and durable pieces of furniture for your kids to cozy up on and read. Go to Big Cozy Books for more info.

Literary Cruise or Reading Retreat:
Now this is a pricey gift, but I think it would be well worth it. Atleast for me. I like the idea of the Murder at Sea cruise, there are mystery authors and award winning writers on board, you can mingle at cocktail receptions, talk to them at panel discussions, have dinner or get the latest book signed without the long lines and rush. Or you could go on a reading retreat, take a few books, relax and unwind at your leisure without a cellphone, laptop or kid in sight. Ahhhhh....what a beautiful vision. To find out more about reading retreats read this great article at Or go to Murder at Sea for more information about booking a cruise.

A photo of a gift box I made
for a giveawayon my blog
Book Gift Baskets and Gift Boxes
I love these and I make them myself and often give them away on my blog. It's simple to do, just collect items that you think the book lover would enjoy reading, add some relaxing items to the basket and voila you have a book gift basket. You can also use a theme for your baskets. For instance if the recipient likes Paris, you could find a book box or basket that has a Paris theme and add books written about Paris or in Paris such as The DaVinci Code or France: The Hungry Traveler or add a dvd like Amelie and perhaps pastries like croissants and a bottle of French wine. For info on ordering book baskets and book boxes, contact me using the contact me tab at the top of the page or if you need suggestions email me and I'll try my best to help you make your own. :-)

What gift ideas do you have for book lovers? I'd love to hear your suggestions. :-)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday's Free Ebooks

Hi there Book Lovers! Hope you all had a fantabulous week. Hope you'll enjoy some of the books this week. Also, please spread the news about Friday's Free eBooks. I want everyone to enjoy them. I will be keeping it updated every Friday. Click the Friday's Free eBooks tab above to see previous Friday Free lists to view.

This list may include eBooks for Kindle, Nook, Sony, Kobo and/or Harlequin, depending on what I find that week. Do you want a free Kindle e-reader too? Well, listen closely, click HERE and download the free Kindle app for your phone, pc or laptop and voila! You have your very own Kindle e-reader...FREE! If you want a free Nook e-reader, then click HERE. Simple. Easy.

Enjoy your weekend and happy reading!

Disclaimer:These books are free and offered by Amazon for Kindle, Nook Book or various forms of digital download. I have not read most if any of these books. But they are free, and everyone likes something free. These books were offered at no cost (free) at the time I posted them, but make sure and confirm that the offer is still available before downloading. Enjoy and if you read any of the books on this list, please stop by and tell us what you thought about it.
The Gift by James Patterson

Product Description: Barnes and Nobles


Read it BEFORE the movie!
Get the first 21 chapters now -- FREE.
PLUS as a bonus, read "Scene One" of the "Witch & Wizard" screenplay -- FREE!

Available on Amazon Kindle and  Nook for FREE! 

Freaks (Rizzoli and Isles) by Tess Gerritsen

Product Description: Barnes and Nobles

In this free Rizzoli & Isles short story from New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen, author of The Silent Girl, a bizarre death comes with a supernatural twist. Homicide cop Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles have seen their fair share of mortal crimes, but the death of Kimberly Rayner may qualify as inhuman in more ways than one. When corpse of the emaciated seventeen-year-old girl is discovered next to an empty coffin in an abandoned church, mysterious bruises around the throat suggest foul play. Caught fleeing the scene is the victim's closest friend, Lucas Henry, an equally skeletal, pale teenager who claims he's guilty only of having a taste for blood-a craving he shared with Kimberly. But the victim's distraught father doesn't believe in vampires, only vengeance. And now, another life may be at risk unless Rizzoli and Isles can uncover the astonishing truth. Includes a special preview of Tess Gerritsen's new Rizzoli & Isles novel, The Silent Girl, on sale July 5. And don't miss the season premiere of TNT's hit series Rizzoli & Isles on July 11. Available on Amazon Kindle, and Nook.
Fortunes of War (The Sentinels Series) by Gordon Zuckerman

Product Description: Kobo

In this riveting amalgam of political intrigue poignant romance and bare-knuckled action six friends risk everything to thwart an international Nazi conspiracy. In the financial devastation of the 1930s a greedy power-hungry group of German industrialists plot to usher in the National Socialist Party in order to rearm Germany and reap the financial rewards. Thus rises Hitler. With Hitler in power the Six Sentinels graduates of an elite American doctoral program uncover the industrialists' plan to hoard hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal war profits. Using their financial and familial connections around the globe they work to foil the machinations of the financiers of the Third Reich. In a daring strategy of Robin Hood-style thievery the sentinels put their lives on the line to serve justice - and thus become embroiled in a dangerous and violent international conspiracy. Available on Amazon Kindle, Kobo and Nook.
Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch by B.J. Daniels

Product Description: Amazon

After Hudson Savage betrayed her, Dana Cardwell hoped never to lay eyes on the seductive cowboy again. Until a bunch of old bones showed up on her family ranch. Suddenly her former lover was back in her life in a big way—to investigate a decades-old crime.
Five years ago, Hud left town with a heart load of regrets. But now, as acting interim marshal, he had a job to do. And this time he wasn't walking away. Because now Dana's life was on the line—as the unsuspecting target of a killer who still walked the canyon. Hud would do whatever it took to keep Dana close. Even if it meant risking his own heart for a second chance for both of them....
Available on Amazon Kindle, Kobo and Nook.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lena Sledge's Gratitude Giveaway

Incredible giveaways are going on this week with the Gratitude Giveaway Hop. It's a giveaway that allows bloggers to say thank you to readers and followers. It will run from November 17th to November 27th at midnight. There are over 300 blogs participating in this giveaway hop, so that's a lot of chances to win something great.

I am giving away (1) one $20 gift card to for U.S. residents or up to $20 in purchases at the Book Depository for international participants.

The rules for this giveaway are as follow:

  • Must be a follower of this blog via GFC, RSS or Email.

That's it. :-)

So to all my followers, I say thank you. Just fill out the rafflecopter form so I can contact you should you win. And have fun entering the other 300 blog in the Gratitude Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer.

And don't forget to stop by the other 300 plus blog participating as well. You can find the entire list of participating blogs in my left sidebar. Have fun and good luck!

Thank you for staying with me on this journey!

You can also stop by and enter the Turkey Trot Giveaway Hop as well on my blog.

5 Reasons Why Authors Should Blog

The other day I attended a power chat where like-minded individuals come together to discuss ideas and help each other stay focused and motivated as they work towards their goals. We discussed several topics including branding, blogging, building platforms, networking and the process of publishing and writing to name a few. Well most of you know I have several books slated for release soon. The first book releasing is If I Had My Way and the second book that will be released is Waiting on Heaven. Now with the release of my books I know it is vital to have a platform. What may you ask is a platform? Well, Writer's Digest describes a platform as all the ways you are visible and appealing to your future, potential or actual readership. So what does building a platform have to do with blogging? Well, since having a platform is dependent on your presence in the community, on the web, in your environment and in your surroundings, your platform speaks for you. It says who you are, without you having to be physically there. So what better way to build a platform than to blog?

I know as a writer myself, blogging seems like another gig to add the mountainous list of things to do on top of writing, reading, book revision, proposals and book signings; not to mention daily tasks that are not associated with writing. So why should authors make the time to blog?

Here are five reasons why author may want to consider blogging
  1. It's a simple, easy and a free way to build a platform. You could use hosted blogging platforms like Blogger for example which is free and easy to setup, especially for beginners. There are other hosted blogging platforms like Wordpress, Typepad, and Tumblr (although Tumblr is more like re-blogging) just to name a few of the more common hosted blogging formats. Or you could invest in a stand alone blog if you want more flexibility or control over your blog, but this usually incurs some cost.

  2. It also provides a way to keep your readers or potential readers informed about events, book signings and  book releases. It allows authors ways to interact with readers as well as granting them access to authors on a more personal and intimate level if preferred.

  3. If you are self-published, it can open up new opportunities for traditional publishers and/or agents to find your work and get a sense of your writing style and voice. It could very well lead to a publishing deal, freelance jobs or speaking engagements. 

  4. Social networks are always changing. Do you remember Myspace? Authors should have a common community where they can interact within their own social community and maintain consistency even throughout all the constant changes of social media. 

  5. It's free promotion for your book and a way to build your brand. (I will discuss what a brand is in a later post) So stay tuned. :-)
There are no rules when it comes to blogging or choosing a blogging platform. Do what best suits you and your writing career. Blogging may not be an viable option for you right now, but it is definitely something to think about. 

For blogging resources check out the following:
Do you think blogs are great tools for authors? Do you blog?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Turkey Trot Giveaway Hop

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love hanging out with family that I haven't seen in awhile, talking and catching up, telling stories we heard a dozen times over and then everyone gathers together while granddaddy says a prayer and then it's grub time. After we've eaten all that we can, we sit around rubbing our bellies until we can muster up the energy to haul our behinds up and gather up the kiddies with tons of leftovers in tow. Ahhh...good times...good times. So in honor of Thanksgiving, I am participating in another giveaway called the Turkey Trot Giveaway hosted by Ashley of Freckleberry Finds. I won't participate in many giveaways come December so I'm going to do several for November. All giveaways for the Turkey Trot are rafflecopter only and all are valued at $25 or more. So that makes it simple and easy with a great value. There are nearly 40 other blogs participating, so have some fun and enter as many as you wish.

  1. Must be a follower of my blog via GFC, RSS or Email.
  2. Must be atleast 13 years old.
  3. All other options on the rafflecopter are optional.
Contest begins November 14, 2011 and ends November 21, 2011 at midnight.

The prize? Well, it's near Christmas and I want to make sure the winner can buy whatever she or he likes for themselves or for someone else. I promise to get super creative again in 2012. :-)

So there will be (1) one winner. The winner will receive (1) one $25 Amazon Gift Card or if you are an international resident, you can choose to have up to $25 in purchases from the Book Depository.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday's Free Ebooks 11/11/11

It's Friday book lovers!. Hope you all had a fantabulous week. This week I was able to find some free E-calendars for 2012. I am going to download them myself as soon as I'm done posting. Hope you enjoy the other books as well. Also, please spread the news about Friday's Free eBooks. I want everyone to enjoy them. I will be keeping it updated every Friday. Click the Friday's Free eBooks tab above to see previous Friday Free lists to view.

This list may include eBooks for Kindle, Nook, Sony, Kobo and/or Harlequin, depending on what I find that week. Do you want a free Kindle e-reader too? Well, listen closely, click HERE and download the free Kindle app for your phone, pc or laptop and voila! You have your very own Kindle e-reader...FREE! If you want a free Nook e-reader, then click HERE. Simple. Easy.

Enjoy your weekend and happy reading!

Disclaimer:These books are free and offered by Amazon for Kindle, Nook Book or various forms of digital download. I have not read most if any of these books. But they are free, and everyone likes something free. These books were offered at no cost (free) at the time I posted them, but make sure and confirm that the offer is still available before downloading. Enjoy and if you read any of the books on this list, please stop by and tell us what you thought about it.
The Journey Home by Michael Baron

Product Description: Amazon
Joseph, a man in his late thirties, awakens disoriented and uneasy in a place he doesn't recognize. Several people are near him when he opens his eyes, all strangers. All of them seem perfectly friendly, but none of them can explain to him how he got there. They offer him a delicious meal and pleasant conversation in a beautifully decorated room. This would be a very nice experience if not for one thing: Joseph doesn't know where he is and he has no way to contact his wife, who he is sure is worried sick over him. Thanking the people for their hospitality, he leaves to make his way back home. The only problem is that whatever happened to him has stripped him of most of his memories. He knows he needs to get back to his wife, but he doesn't know how to find her. He sets out on a journey to find his home with no sense of where he's going and only the precious, indelible vision of the woman he loves to guide him.Joseph, Antoinette, and Warren are three people on different searches for home. Click for FREE Kindle download. Also free on Nook.

Finger of Guilt: A Bonus Story by Paul Grossman

Product Description: Amazon
In Finger of Guilt, star investigator Hans Fraksa claims that the Kinderfresser, the vicious child eater of Berlin, has been caught. So why is he worried discarded, gnawed bones will keep appearing?
Follow the gruesome case with detective Willi Krauss in The Children of Wrath, by Paul Grossman, coming March 2012. Available for FREE as pre-order on Kindle. 
Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise by Joyce Magnin 

Product Description: Amazon
Newly widowed Charlotte Figg purchases a double-wide trailer sight unseen and moves to the Paradise Trailer Park with her dog Lucky. Unfortunately, neither the trailer nor Paradise are what Charlotte expected. Her trailer is a ramshackle old place in need of major repair, and the people of Paradise are harboring more secrets than Bayer has aspirin. Charlotte s new friend Rose Tattoo learns that Charlotte played softball and convinces her to rally the women of Paradise into a team. Reluctant at first, Charlotte warms to the notion and is soon coaching the Paradise Angels. Meanwhile, Charlotte discovers that the manager of Paradise, Fergus Wrinkel, abuses his wife Suzy. Charlotte sets out to find a way to save Suzy from Fergus and in the process comes to a difficult realization about her own painful marriage. FREE on the Amazon Kindle. Click Kindle for FREE download.
They Almost Always Come Home by Cynthia Ruchti 

Product Description: Amazon
When Libby’s husband Greg fails to return from a two-week canoe trip to the Canadian wilderness, the authorities soon write off his disappearance as an unhappy husband’s escape from an empty marriage and unrewarding career. Their marriage might have survived if their daughter Lacey hadn’t died…and if Greg hadn’t been responsible. Libby enlists the aid of her wilderness savvy father-in-law and her faith-walking best friend to help her search for clues to her husband’s disappearance…if for no other reason than to free her to move on. What the trio discovers in the search upends Libby’s presumptions about her husband and rearranges her faith. FREE on Amazon Kindle.
Free Calendars for 2012
Click on Image for Free Calendar

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Guest Post by Author Denise Tompkins

A life-long voracious reader, Denise has three favorite authors. Why three? Because favorite authors are like chips: a person can’t have just one. Her little house was so overrun with books last year that her darling husband bought her an e-reader out of self-preservation. He was (legitimately) afraid she might begin throwing out pots and pans to make room for more books, and he didn’t want to starve.
Along with reading, Denise loves travel, is obsessed with the British Isles, practices photography, enjoys cooking and looks forward to Christmas as an excuse to bake.
Her debut novel, Legacy, is the first book in The Niteclif Evolutions and will be available in both e-book and print from Samhain Publishing.
You can find out more about Denise by following her on Twitter or fanning her on Facebook.

When Characters Decide to Steer

I laughed when I saw this picture. All I could think about was how much it represents what happens during my writing process. As a pantser, I rarely know what’s going to happen as I write, but there are general vague ideas that move through my mind as I try to navigate plot, character arcs, black moments, tension, etc. However, ideas or no, what always seems to happen is this: I’ll be moving along at a good clip, confident that my writing mojo is happening, when one of my characters does a 180 degree turn and hauls pants in the opposite direction. I’m left floundering as the other characters scramble to cover the plotting defection. Why, I wail, why did you do this to me?

The truth, at least for me, is that my characters tend to take on a life of their own as they move through the course of the story. They begin to think and feel and react in ways that are completely intrinsic to the personality I’ve developed for them—or the personality that has emerged across the course of pages—and I become their puppet as much as they remain mine. I follow where they lead me. I find myself anxious to learn what will become of these characters I’ve breathed life into when they make unexpected choices.

A perfect example comes at the end of Legacy when the presumed series hero is forced to make some hard, hard choices in the heat of the moment. The path he took still stuns me, the frustration he had with certain secondary characters bleeding into violent choices that one can never undo. I remember writing the scene and coming back to it thinking, Are you sure? Is this the right choice to make right here? But no matter what I tried to do in rewriting the scene, the facts stayed as they’d originally been written and I ended up leaving the original scene in the book, nearly untouched by edits.

Don’t be misled, though. Even characters that are plotted can also throw monkey wrenches into the author’s program when they make choices that are inconsistent with the plot the author has laid out. I’ve seen it happen time and again where critique partners will call me, bordering on furious, because one or more of their well-defined characters has done something so outrageous it stuns the author. I have a strange sense of vindication when this happens. It affirms for me that even the best laid plots can take unexpected turns.

Writing characters, whether human or shifter or mythological, almost always involves dealing with relatable emotions. Because emotions are often so unpredictable, it shouldn’t surprise us, as writers, when our characters fail to heel at our command. I’m learning, through the behaviors of my most recent very Alpha hero, to roll with the emotional gambits. For a fictional character, the guy’s a brilliant teacher.
Thank you Ms.Tompkins for guest posting today. I wish you the very best in all your future literary endeavors.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Guest Post by Author G.G. Vandagriff

Hello everyone! Thanks for stopping by today. I have author G.G. Vandagriff guest posting today. So please help me welcome her as we encourage and congratulate her on her literary journey. Ms. Vandagriff studied writing in an advanced workshop when she was at Stanford, but was discouraged because everyone wanted her to be J.D. Salinger. She eventually began her project while commuting to and from my job in Los Angeles as an International Banker. By the time her three children were born, she had a draft, but knew it wasn't going anywhere. Discouraged, she turned to writing what she read--light mysteries. However, for fifteen years, she had been the victim of bi-polar disorder (a common ailment among writers), and after publishing three books, she became too ill to write. During that ten year struggle to survive, she learned enough about overcoming pain, and about life and love to be able to complete her Austrian project. That became The Last Waltz. After two more mysteries, she was able to complete Pieces of Paris. Her new book "The Only Way to Paradise" is the result of intense immersion in the Florentine and Tuscan culture, and most of it was written there. 

This Writer’s Life with the World of Letters
By G.G. Vandagriff

Publishing and promotion should not be topics that concern you until after you have found your writing voice, and written the very best book you possibly can. Although I had already published eleven books, and even won awards, The Only Way toParadise was three and a half years in the writing, three visits to Florence in the research, several alpha readers’ opinions in the many rewrites, and then, after it was written and published (my first e-published book), I got a professional critique, which caused me to completely rewrite it and republish it!  Now, I know it’s (probably) the best book I can write.

I would never have published a book if I hadn’t found my voice. This I did by learning to do writing practice. Vickie came over on Wednesday night. We used a trigger: first line of a poem, novel, or a piece of music.  We wrote for twenty minutes without stopping or editing, and then shared. This is the way to get into your right brain.  It frees you from your internal critic, shows you what your subconscious mind values emotionally, and strips away trite styles and figures of speech. What is left is uniquely you—what you have to say to the world. My first book started out as a writing exercise.

So, if I’ve published eleven books traditionally, why am I self-pubbing this one? 1.) I have a base of dedicated readers to launch me. 2.) I wasn’t reaching the audience I wanted with my other publishers. 3.) I firmly believe that e-pubbing is the wave of the future. My book will only gain readers. It will not go out of print. I have total control of its contents.

How did I get published in the first place? Luck. I took a college extension class from the head of publishing for Andrews and McMeel.  We had to write a sample book proposal. I put my heart and soul into it, writing about something I was passionate about—family history. I called it Voices In Your Blood. The publisher loved it, and asked that I submit it to her house. I did, it was accepted and “the rest is history.” That was twenty years ago.  The book remains so popular that used copies can always be found on line. I am revising it to go into its second edition at this time. I took another extension course on writing mysteries—my favorite reading material. That writer gave me the name of her agent. I wrote a genealogical mystery with two whacky heroines. The agent loved it, but failed to sell it to the first seven houses she tried, so she told me to write another book. Rather than let that book go to waste, I sent it to a smaller niche publisher. They accepted it immediately and my “Alex and Briggie” series was born. It is still going strong. The sixth book will come out next year, but will be self-published.  I have obtained the rights to all the books in the series and am re-pubbing them myself with newer, more stylish covers and a well-targeted campaign.

In the meantime, I had my epic historical romance, The Last Waltz: A Novel of Love and War that I had been working on for forty years. I finally felt I had done it justice, so I submitted it to my publisher. That was a mistake. The book won a big award, but the publisher never took advantage of that. The book never made it out of the Western markets. Another book that had taken twenty-five years to write, met an even worse fate. I grew truly disgusted.

Since I do not write books with explicit sex, my chances of success on the New York scene seemed poor, so I did not even try to sell The Only Way to Paradise there. My husband writes an uber blog: The Passive Voice ( that chronicles the consequences of the technological disruption the publishing industry is experiencing with the emergence of e-books, and Amazon. He is a lawyer who works exclusively with authors who have been abused legally by agent and publisher’s contracts. These entities are going berserk under the new realities of publishing, and he cannot believe the things he is seeing in contracts!
So, I’m self-pubbing. And I’m finding that the Internet is the greatest resource in the world for promotion. Blogs and websites devoted exclusively to marketing books abound! It is an exciting time to be a writer. The author has finally found a way to get past the “gatekeepers.”  However, the author must have something really good to sell.
Thank you very much Ms. Vandagriff for guest posting today. I wish you much success in all your future endeavors. 

To follow Ms. Vandagriff's journey visit the following:

G.G. Vandagriff Website
G.G Vandagriff's Blog
Facebook Page

Monday, November 7, 2011

November Giveaway Hop

Welcome to The November Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & Co-hosted by Tristi Pinkston. This hop runs from Tuesday, November 8th through Friday, November 11th. There are over 200 fabulous blogs participating in this hop. So that's tons of opportunities to win something, especially for the holidays. 

I am giving away a $30 Amazon gift card to one (1) U.S. resident OR up to $30 in purchases from the Book Depository for one (1) International winner. But there will only be one winner. I have been doing gift cards lately because it nearing the holiday and I know some people would rather choose what to purchase for themselves or for others as holiday gifts. So enjoy the hop and good luck!

The rules for the giveaway are as follows:

  1. You must be a follower of this blog via GFC, RSS or Email.
  2. Must fill out the rafflecopter form.
  3. Must be atleast 13 years old to enter.
  4. All other options on the rafflectopter are optional.
To enter the other 200 giveaways on this hop click for the list here.

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I am a writer, filmmaker, wife and a mom of five beautiful, intelligent, quirky kids. This blog is for writers, aspiring writers, filmmakers and movie lovers. Bringing you my favorite books, films and photos, as well as giveaways and updates on my journey. I'm currently in the process of producing my first short film from my collection of short stories titled, If I Had My Way. The first story to be filmed will be Tandarin Drive. My award winning book, If I Had My Way, is available now. You can purchase a copy at and You may contact me via email at:

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