Thursday, June 25, 2009

Stephen Meier, Mail Order Brides and KATKA



Katka by Stephen Meier is a gritty, edgy novel of greed, love, and swindles gone very wrong. When Gavin and his girlfriend team with her best friend Simona to pull a phony mail order bride scam in the Czech Republic, Gavin gets in way over his head in the high-stakes and dangerous business of selling wives. When Gavin talks Katka, his girlfriend, into becoming part of the merchandise, planning to bait-n-switch the client in the end, things go awry and Katka disappears with the client. Partnering with the jealous and volatile Simona, Gavin begins to lament this risky life he has chosen, but finds the money is something he can’t walk away from. Gavin’s doubts grow; the con begins to consume him, and he finds himself thinking of Katka, the fate he dealt her, and whether he can undo the biggest mistake of his life.

Written with staccato grit and streetwise savvy, Katka reads like a Quentin Tarantino movie.

As our guest blogger, Stephen discusses the type of research he did for Katka:

The truth is the research I did for my book, KATKA, was talking with girls who were willing to be mail order brides or who were mail order brides. To hear their first-hand accounts or reasons for doing it was truly amazing, and all I needed to know. I wanted the emotion behind the story, as this book is an emotional roller coaster, fueled by love, greed, and the desire for a better life. Talking with people who have lived through this is all the research you need.

Yet, I am also lucky enough to know someone, a guy, who actually purchased a young woman from the Phillipines. So I asked why he did it. He's a very nice man,very religious. So to hear him tell me how much he just wanted a companion, and then to see how happy he was when she finally came over, just brought it all home for me.

You can go online and type in mail order brides and find about a million hits. There are some sleazy sites, as well as some very professional ones. I mean, Facebook even advertises for an agency. So that tells you right there, that it's big business! And it's not going away!

Stephen Ross Meier was born in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, the first of many places he would live worldwide. He received his Bachelors in English from Arizona State University. He currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada

Inspired by music, films, books, and the world around him, he is currently working on several projects, with his next book, Teaching Pandas to Swim, ready to be released soon. A huge fan of such writers as Charles Bukowski, Milan Kundera, Irving Welsch, Irving Stone, Chuck Palahniuk, and Brett Easton Ellis, Stephen has always been drawn to writing and story telling.

Having been diagnosed with Heart Disease on May 10th, 2006, Stephen has been reminded that life void of passion is really not a life at all.

For more information please visit www.stephenrossmeier.com.

Why I Decided to Go on a Virtual Book Tour by Renee Hand



The reason why I chose Pump Up Your Book Promotion's virtual book tour was because I wanted my books to get out to the world virtually. Though my books are available in bookstores and on-line I wanted to make sure the right audiences were going to see them; that’s where Pump Up Your Book Promotions came in.

I visited the sites and learned more information about how my book would be promoted. I saw what they were doing and felt that joining the tour was going to give my books great exposure, that and the information that has been provided to me has been invaluable.

So far my tour is going great. I have had some blogs where the discussions have been just phenomenal. I have talked to and met many new people I never knew existed and have hopefully built some new friendships. I have learned more about blogging and book promotion than I knew before. Overall I feel that my book tour experience has been a memorable one and I hope the rest of the tour does even better. Thank you so much for this opportunity. It is greatly appreciated.


Renee Hand is the author of Magic Hearts, which won Best 2006 Fantasy Romance and Seduction of the Lonely Heart, which won a National Literary Award for Best Romance of 2007. The firs two books in her new children's detective series, The Crypto-Capers have recently been released. The Case of the Missing Sock and The Case of Red Rock Canyon are available at Amazon.com.

Visit Renee online at www.reneeahand.com.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What I Learned on My Virtual Book Tour by Barry Eva (Storyheart)


YOUR BOOK IS PUBLISHED:

So now what?

EXPOSURE!!!!!

Twitter it, blog it, join groups, check Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc, get your name and that of your book OUT THERE!

Try checking your book on something like http://www.fetchbook.info/ where you can put in your ISBN number and see all the locations online that are selling your book and the cost.

Another GREAT way to spread the word is a “VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR”.

Normal book tours where you might go to a book shop, sit there all day and have four people come up to you, two to take a free book mark and perhaps one to purchase a copy of your book (unless you're a big-name author who can bring in a big crowd and sell an impressive number of books). Virtual tours allow you to visit locations all over the world without leaving your desk. Normal tours, once your visit is over it’s over, virtual tours can go on promoting your book for months even years after your event. Unlike the few people in the book store, virtual tours allow you to reach thousand with each interview, each review and each stop along your tour.

I did a VBT back in February; it was a few days after coming out of hospital where I'd had major back surgery. Yet for the whole month I was on my virtual tour, I visited places all around the world while still in my sick bed.

Just think, you do a tour to a book store, you have to cart all your books and supplies along with you, perhaps even donate a few to the book shop itself. Unless you’re some huge star, if you're lucky during the whole day you might manage to get ten people to stop and chat. Three to ask questions, three to ask for directions and four to help themselves to the free bookmarks or whatever you might have to give away. Once your day is finished it’s over and you’re forgotten. On a virtual tour, you can reach sites, blogs and even newspapers that might have hundreds of thousands of visitors a month, and your interview/review does not disappear; it’s there afterwards for people to continue to read.

There are many offerings for virtual book tours. I have been quoted up to three thousand for some tours; others I have seen offering seven days tour for $149.

However the best one I have found and one I highly recommend is PUMP UP YOUR BOOK PROMOTION.

They offer three different packages starting at $249 and they will set you up with a full month's tour, blogs, interviews even radio show stops. As well as information about each stop along the way being shared at several major sites. These are a great group of people I completed my tour with and have stayed friends with ever since.

THINGS TO REMEMBER ON A VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR:

* These tours take a month or two to plan so book ahead of time.

* Be prepared to be part of the tour. Visit your guest stops, reply to comments, and be prepared to send out book copies for reviewers.

* Don’t just leave everything to your tour organizer look for some stops of your own.

* Link these stops/reviews/visits in your blog and on your web site. You MUST have a web site.

* Don’t supply the same dull answers to interviews or post the same guests posts. Be creative, you're meant to be a writer, try and add some humor.

* Like many other things with a virtual tour… What you put in you take out.
Put in nothing and you’ll get nothing.

* You never know where one of your interviews might turn up. During my month I appeared in the Chicago Sunday Times and even the Wall Street Journal.

One thing I will state again is…

Marketing and PR doesn’t sell books - it gets you exposure!

There are always those who expect every stop along the way to mean they will sell another hundred books. Don’t forget the formula -

Publicity=exposure
Exposure=name recognition
Name recognition MAY equal book sales



Born in Barnet, Hertfordshire, Barry Eva, also known as “Storyheart”, left his beloved England in 2000, moving to the USA to be with the woman he'd met and fallen in love with on the Internet.

Better known for his short romance stories on the net and in his book Stories from the Heart, Barry is popular for narrating his stories on local TV or as a guest on other media stations,where his whit, oratory, and old-fashioned English charm make him a popular interviewee. His latest release is the teen romance novel Across the Pond.

At present, Barry is living in Connecticut, with his wife and two children.

You can find Barry online at http://across-t-pond.com/index.htm or his blog at http://acrossthepond-storyheart.blogspot.com/ where he has been sharing a series of articles on book promotion on a budget. And don't miss his entertaining show on Blog Talk Radio.

What I Learned on My Virtual Book Tour by Barry Eva (Storyheart)


YOUR BOOK IS PUBLISHED:

So now what?

EXPOSURE!!!!!

Twitter it, blog it, join groups, check Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc, get your name and that of your book OUT THERE!

Try checking your book on something like http://www.fetchbook.info/ where you can put in your ISBN number and see all the locations online that are selling your book and the cost.

Another GREAT way to spread the word is a “VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR”.

Normal book tours where you might go to a book shop, sit there all day and have four people come up to you, two to take a free book mark and perhaps one to purchase a copy of your book (unless you're a big-name author who can bring in a big crowd and sell an impressive number of books). Virtual tours allow you to visit locations all over the world without leaving your desk. Normal tours, once your visit is over it’s over, virtual tours can go on promoting your book for months even years after your event. Unlike the few people in the book store, virtual tours allow you to reach thousand with each interview, each review and each stop along your tour.

I did a VBT back in February; it was a few days after coming out of hospital where I'd had major back surgery. Yet for the whole month I was on my virtual tour, I visited places all around the world while still in my sick bed.

Just think, you do a tour to a book store, you have to cart all your books and supplies along with you, perhaps even donate a few to the book shop itself. Unless you’re some huge star, if you're lucky during the whole day you might manage to get ten people to stop and chat. Three to ask questions, three to ask for directions and four to help themselves to the free bookmarks or whatever you might have to give away. Once your day is finished it’s over and you’re forgotten. On a virtual tour, you can reach sites, blogs and even newspapers that might have hundreds of thousands of visitors a month, and your interview/review does not disappear; it’s there afterwards for people to continue to read.

There are many offerings for virtual book tours. I have been quoted up to three thousand for some tours; others I have seen offering seven days tour for $149.

However the best one I have found and one I highly recommend is PUMP UP YOUR BOOK PROMOTION.

They offer three different packages starting at $249 and they will set you up with a full month's tour, blogs, interviews even radio show stops. As well as information about each stop along the way being shared at several major sites. These are a great group of people I completed my tour with and have stayed friends with ever since.

THINGS TO REMEMBER ON A VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR:

* These tours take a month or two to plan so book ahead of time.

* Be prepared to be part of the tour. Visit your guest stops, reply to comments, and be prepared to send out book copies for reviewers.

* Don’t just leave everything to your tour organizer look for some stops of your own.

* Link these stops/reviews/visits in your blog and on your web site. You MUST have a web site.

* Don’t supply the same dull answers to interviews or post the same guests posts. Be creative, you're meant to be a writer, try and add some humor.

* Like many other things with a virtual tour… What you put in you take out.
Put in nothing and you’ll get nothing.

* You never know where one of your interviews might turn up. During my month I appeared in the Chicago Sunday Times and even the Wall Street Journal.

One thing I will state again is…

Marketing and PR doesn’t sell books - it gets you exposure!

There are always those who expect every stop along the way to mean they will sell another hundred books. Don’t forget the formula -

Publicity=exposure
Exposure=name recognition
Name recognition MAY equal book sales



Born in Barnet, Hertfordshire, Barry Eva, also known as “Storyheart”, left his beloved England in 2000, moving to the USA to be with the woman he'd met and fallen in love with on the Internet.

Better known for his short romance stories on the net and in his book Stories from the Heart, Barry is popular for narrating his stories on local TV or as a guest on other media stations,where his whit, oratory, and old-fashioned English charm make him a popular interviewee. His latest release is the teen romance novel Across the Pond.

At present, Barry is living in Connecticut, with his wife and two children.

You can find Barry online at http://across-t-pond.com/index.htm or his blog at http://acrossthepond-storyheart.blogspot.com/ where he has been sharing a series of articles on book promotion on a budget. And don't miss his entertaining show on Blog Talk Radio.

What I Learned on My Virtual Book Tour by J.W. Nicklaus



I don't honestly recall when I first contacted Dorothy with questions regarding Pump Up Your Book Promotion. Frankly, that part is inconsequential to me because what I gained from her and my resulting tour has been far more important than such surface details.

One thing of importance I do recall prior to my involvement was a day in mid-February 2009; I'd received a package from my publisher. I'd waited anxiously for it for quite some time, and yet even as I held it I had a mild sense of trepidation. Gently, carefully, protectively I held her, hands encased in cotton gloves so as not to outwardly soil her skin. My eyes drank in every detail: her size, her gentle heft, her color. She is now and always will be my first. After indulging in a few profoundly quiet moments with her I knew I needed to begin planning for her future.

I'd done some research into virtual book tours and they seemed perfectly suited to a society which increasingly gets its information from online sources—myself being one of them. Why not avail myself of the innumerable, faceless users who blog, or simply read and follow blogs? The decision was a no-brainer for me. I honestly believe that I was somehow guided to Dorothy and her crew. There are other VBT entities, assuredly, but PUYBP—as I'd told Dorothy early on—provided me with something I hadn't expected, but hoped for: The Human Touch.

I learned there are people whom you may never meet that still care not just about your product or their service, but about you. These same people will go to great lengths to help you out or make things right if events go astray.

I learned there are people in the Great Cloud who, while faceless, embody all things human. They laugh, they love, they get frustrated, they rant, they suffer heartbreak and celebrate love. Perception by many blog/internet initiates seems to border on sterility and cold objectivity. In my experience the complete opposite is true. You, sitting there reading this, perhaps sipping your tea, coffee, or soda, are equally flesh-and-blood as I. The only thing sterile between us is this text, and even the words themselves carry power in their static state.

I learned that I'm never too old to make friends.

I learned that in doing a VBT the work doesn't stop when you turn in all your interviews and such . . . the fun really begins when you get to interact with the hosts and blog readers. They're the lifeblood of your tour. Go back to your host blogs, repeatedly. Do your best to interact with those folks, even offline if you can. Walk on the beach instead of using the boardwalk, know what I mean?

I learned that the coordinator's job is far more involved than I ever imagined. These people are on your side, playing to win, but they have teams in other leagues too, not just yours. They're frantic behind the scenes. But month after month they pull off small miracles with the success of each tour.

Speaking of success, I learned that it's a two-way street. I never had the expectation that one blog tour would be my ticket to fame and fortune. NEVER. It's a vehicle for getting name recognition, for getting your name to come up big and bold in the big search engines. They can do everything possible on their end to fulfill all the stops and make sure hosts are prompt, but their promotional efforts only extend just so far. You have to be an equal partner in the success of your tour. Blog about it, send e-mails about it, Twitter about it. Do everything in your power to drive people to each of your stops if you can. Believe me, if you do your part as a writer in keeping the stops interesting there will be those who follow you the whole way. And that's a lot of following, folks! If you build it, they will come.

As an author there are times I may feel like I'm an island unto myself, but I'm not blind enough to accept that as truth. On my tour I had support, guidance, and in the end—I believe—success. It wasn't my doing entirely, rather it was very much a team effort. My coordinator was the best cheerleader and coach I could have wished for. My tour is long over, but the efforts of everyone remain for anyone to search and read online. Ultimately that's the goal.

Friendships and solid business relationships are possible from keyboard-to-keyboard. I learned that both extend far beyond the boundaries of a page . . . and both are worth far more than the initial cost.

Regards,
J.W. Nicklaus
Author - The Light, The Dark, and Ember Between


J.W. Nicklaus maintains his own personal space between the soul and soft machine in the arid southwest amongst the snowbirds and the Arizona Diamondbacks. After graduating with an Associate of Arts in Journalism and Photography and a B.S. in Telecommunications he’s spent the better part of twenty years experiencing life and working in trades as varied as a small advertising firm to a litigation service bureau. Born and raised in Arizona, he has been fortunate to have seen and experienced parts of this wonderful country, West coast to East.

He maintains a small website at www.avomnia.com and a blog found at avomnia.wordpress.com.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What is Literary Fiction? by Gail Graham, Author of Sea Changes



Sea Changes is literary fiction. But what is literary fiction? One editor described literary fiction as being a work “with an untargetable market.” A better definition might be that literary fiction is, among other things, not genre fiction.

The whole idea of genre fiction has little to do with literature, although it has quite a lot to do with marketing. Genres divide books and their readers into neat and distinct categories, which make it easy for publishers’ representatives to sell books.

Genre isn’t about quality. It’s about a formula. When I was young, we used to call it pulp fiction. Reading genre fiction is like eating a Big Mac. You know exactly what to expect, and what you expect is what you get.

Sea Changes is not genre fiction. The plot turns around an (alleged) kidnapping and murder, but Sea Changes is not a mystery. A lonely woman meets a lonely man and they are attracted to one another, but Sea Changes is not a romance. There’s a parallel universe -- but Sea Changes is not science fiction, or fantasy.

Sea Changes draws you in. Sea Changes forces you – the reader – to decide what is really going on at any given point in the story. You may think it’s an allegory. You may think it’s an adventure. You’ll certainly find it a good read.

Some writers write for their own satisfaction, but I write for a particular group of discerning readers. I know my readers. I know what they like.

My readers like unusual books, novels that are different. Many of my readers belong to book discussion groups, and enjoy speculating about plot, and character, and intent. My readers insist upon what they consider good writing, and they like a tight, plausible plot. A million years ago, a New York agent named Scott Meredith wrote an article of advice to beginning writers. I still remember his succinct description of what constitutes a good novel. “An appealing character struggles against great odds to attain a worthwhile goal.” My readers would agree.

Does this sound like you? If so, you’re one of my readers. Write to me at gailgrahamseachanges@comcast.net and tell me what you think of Sea Changes. I look forward to hearing from you, because you – my reader -- are the reason I write.

To find out more about Sea Changes and Gail Graham's other books, visit her website at www.gailgraham.net.

Hazel Statham on Virtual Book Tours


Today's guest blogger is Hazel Statham. Hazel is a multi-published author residing in the UK. Her latest release is a Regency Romance titled, Lizzie's Rake.


This is the fourth virtual book tour I have taken with Pump Up Your Book Promotion and I find the tours invaluable. Living in the UK and being published in the USA, it is very difficult for me to deal with the promotion necessary to launch my new releases, therefore, a virtual book tour is the perfect answer. For someone like me, who knows absolutely nothing about the promotional world, these tours provide the exposure needed to inform the public of my work.

The staff are extremely easy to work with and they guide me through every section of the process, which results in a very enjoyable and stress free tour. At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect or whether it would be worth the expense, but I soon found that it works well for me and is certainly worth the fee charged. It’s so much easier to let the professionals lead the way.



ABOUT THE BOOK:

Can a rake reform his ways and truly love? Lizzie's head tells her one thing, her heart another.

Infamous rake and Corinthian, Maxim Beaufort, Earl of St. Ive, finding himself in possession of a property in Yorkshire, is unprepared for the changes it will bring into his life. Irresistibly drawn to Elizabeth Granger, the former owner's daughter, he attempts to help the family, finding himself filling the role of benefactor.

When the house is razed to the ground, he arranges for temporary accommodation for Elizabeth and her siblings on his estate. When Elizabeth rejects his proposal of marriage, he is nonetheless determined to win her over. However, events and his reputation conspire to thwart his efforts and his course is one fraught with dangers. Trust does not come easily and determined to protect her heart, Elizabeth struggles to resist her own longings. At times, their difficulties appear insurmountable but the earl is widely known as 'The Indomitable' and the name was not lightly earned.

Lizzie's Rake is available at Amazon.com and from The Wild Rose Press.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Renee Hand and The Crypto-Capers - A New Interactive Reading Series for Kids


Today's special guest is author Renee Hand. The first two books in her Crypto-Capers series have been released and a third book is due out later this year. We reviewed The Case of the Missing Sock and The Case of Red Rock Canyon here and here.

In this story siblings Max and Mia Holmes, along with their good friend Morris and their flamboyant Granny Holmes, are know as The Crypto-Capers. They are a group of detectives who unravel crimes by solving cryptograms that criminals leave behind.

Renee is touring the blogosphere in June to promote Book 1. The Case of the Missing Sock leads the Crypto-Capers to Florida, where they are hired by a Mr. Delacomb. The mystery leads the team to different locations. Clues flourish throughout the mystery. Suspects by the handful seem to pop up at every turn, but who committed the crime?

Readers must solve the cryptograms and puzzles to help the detectives solve the crime.

Renee shares with us the inspiration behind this new interactive children's detective series and why she targeted this specific age group.

My Crypto-Capers Series is read mostly by 4th-7th graders. I wrote in this age group for many reasons. After doing lots of research and asking some of my book industry friends, I came to the conclusion that there were a lack of books out there for this age group, especially around that 5th – 6th grade level. The biggest complaints I have heard from some teachers I have asked concerning reading, is that they have kids who are just not interested in reading. Reading comprehension we know is big in schools and in testing and there are many kids out there who are just not thinking about what they are reading and they want everything just laid out for them nice and easy. Several kids that I have talked to from all over have admitted this to me. That’s a problem and it is a hard one to overcome. Kids not wanting to think about what they are reading, and just getting by. Well, we all know that you just can’t “get by” in life. In life we know that we need to have reading comprehension in our lives as well as problem solving and critical thinking. If kids don’t start asking themselves why things happen then they will never know.

That’s where my series comes in. This series is fun and entertaining, always keeping the reader’s attention. Not only does the series challenge the avid reader, but also keeps the reluctant reader's attention. As soon as the reader picks up the book, they have instantly joined the team as a detective. The reader will be asked to look up different things and to participate in the story on different occasions. My goal was to have kids remember what they were reading because they were learning information with value, yet having fun at the same time. I am all about having fun in my stories and the activities I create for it. I want kids to learn about various things and remain interested in them. But most importantly I want my readers to ask why? Why did this happen? How did it come about? That’s what I love about mysteries. I love to read mysteries and the reason why is because I have to think about what I am reading. I have to pay attention to detail and why events in the story are happening. That is what I am teaching kids to do in my series. They need to ask why, and when they do, they will be rewarded with an answer and a better understanding. Kids have to realize that they also can’t always believe what they see, sometimes our eyes deceive us. We see things happen and we come to a conclusion based off what we see, not what we know. I am getting kids to find the whole truth in something and not to believe everything they see but to put the effort into finding out what really happened.

There were no major hurdles that I had to overcome in writing in this genre or for this age group. The biggest thing that every author deals with is getting your book out there to the right audience who will most benefit from it. I have learned a lot since my first book was published a few years ago. I have four books to my credit with more to come and each book brings its own frustrations and problems to overcome, but what I have also learned is to be strong and determined. Any problem can be fixed with a little time and patience.

View The Crypto-Capers video trailer!



The Case of the Missing Sock and The Case of Red Rock Canyon can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the author's website.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Guest Blogger - Tristi Pinkston, Author of Agent in Old Lace


I recently reviewed Agent in Old Lace by Tristi Pinkston. In case you missed that review, you can find it here.

Tristi is currently touring the blogosphere to let people know all about her contemporary romantic suspense novel Agent of Old Lace, and I agreed to host her. Actually, if she hadn't asked I would have offered because I loved her last book, Season of Sacrifice so much, I knew I wanted to read Agent in Old Lace the minute it was available.

Though Tristi told me it might be dangerous, I allowed her to take the reins and discuss whatever she wanted to today. So, I'm taking a nap for a few moments and Tristi is moving in.

Catching the Waves
By Tristi Pinkston

When a surfer wants to catch a wave, he goes out into the water and gets ready, holding his board poised just right. When the wave comes, he takes full advantage, placing the board and hopping on, holding his arms just so in order to keep his balance, and he rides that wave as far as it will take him. As he’s standing in the water, waiting, he doesn’t feel guilty if the wave doesn’t come right when he thought it would. He just waits a minute, remaining ready, and then enjoys the ride when it comes.

Spurts of creativity are very much like waves. They come and they go, sometimes pounding into the beach and sometimes gently lapping, often with gaps in between. Writers ride those waves of creativity, tapping out pages upon pages as the wave takes them into shore. Yet, for some reason, the analogy stops here. Whereas the surfer patiently waits for the wave, knowing one is coming, the writer frets and stresses. “Where’s my next wave?” he moans. “I’m a fraud. A failure. I’ll never get published. I’ll never finish this book. I’m stuck and I don’t know how to fix it. I’m a loser.”

What the writer needs to realize is what the surfer knows instinctively. The wave will come. It might not come right now, or thirty seconds from now, but it will come. No amount of stressing or whining will bring it any sooner. The question is, are you poised in the water, gripping your board, ready to leap on when the time is right?

1. Are you getting enough rest? Sleep is one of the major factors in creativity. If you just can’t come up with a decent idea to save your life, it’s time for a nap, or two or three … whatever you need to recharge.

2. Are you feeding your mind? If you’re writing a romance, are you reading romances, watching romantic movies, and snuggling up with your sweetie? You’ve got to feed the fire. If you’re writing a historical fiction, read them. If you’re writing a nonfiction text, read them. Keep your brain firing on those topics so that when your idea flares to life, it won’t be like trying to start a rusty chainsaw.

3. Are you taking enough time away from the computer? That might seem counterproductive, but it’s not. Sitting in the same place day after day, staring at the screen, isn’t the most awe-inspiring place you could be. If the screen is mocking you, take a break. Go for a walk. Get some oxygen flowing. Go shopping. Sometimes changing your atmosphere is the best thing you can do to get those ideas coming again.

You are not a failure if your ideas seem slow in coming. You just need some time to recharge yourself and possibly even remind yourself why you love to write in the first place. It should never feel like a chore. If that’s where you are right now, take a break. Then get back in the water and wait for the wave. It will come.


I'm back! I popped in at Tristi's blog and noticed this post from the day she kicked off her virtual book tour. It's not often I read of an author interviewing herself, so please check it out.

You can also find Tristi online at her website.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Jean Koning and Pushing the Limits...or Not


Today's guest blogger is Jean Koning, author of the absurd humor non-fiction book Visions.

As most of us were popping pimples pimples and starting puberty, the versatile Jean Koning (or perhaps better known as his musical alter-ego '!JP') was launching project after project to avant garde aficionados.

At the age we were struggling to get our drivers license he was a resident at clubs. While the rest of us were chasing girls, laboring to get through school, or trying to sneak into clubs Jean was already inside of them, busy becoming one of the most original artists in the world. Seems impressive, but I guess when you're studying masters of the trade like Andy Warhol and Arthur Rimbaud while the rest of the kids are studying math and science those kind of things aren't too big of a deal.

From these not so humble beginnings Jean has carved himself a spot in the world of Underground Music that stretches from the Dutch Landscpaes to South East Asia. He has taken steps into music, spoken word, photography, poetry, theatre and film, working with a wide variety of amazing artists while showing off his own formidable talents as well.

With the help of his personal side-kick, the multi-instrumentalist Van Weely, he created almost legendary performances; his own conceptual punk-n-roll shows. Jean has made a name for himself that should be on the lips of art lovers the world over.

Now he is a published author as well. His latest novel was published in 2008 (in Dutch only). His novel Visions, which contains stories and columns written in 2006, is now reissued.

He is married and has a daughter.

For more information about this author and his work visit: http://www.1jp.org/

Pushing writing to the limit is like feeding a two year old LSD; you know that some people on this planet do it, but it is still something shocking and totally unreal. You probably never get in touch with it.

Let’s face it: where you truly satisfied and excited when you read Danielewski’s House of Leaves for the first time? I was going like: okay, Mark, I admire what you’re doing here, but where the hell is the story!

Reading the House of Leaves was like going to a gym class. I was exhausted every time I managed to finish ten pages. By the time I finished the book, I was suffering from both agoraphobia as well as claustrophobia. Which leads to the conclusion that Danielewski did one hell of a job.

Of course I try to push limits myself. Not only am I the King-of-Ignoring-Deadlines, I also put down everything that comes to mind. Let’s focus on my only English book “Visions”. I was invited to write columns for an American e-zine. So my research was based on American writing. Safe, conform to all the rules and standards. But once I started writing, I thought: let’s do it! Why don’t I introduce myself as the Devil Incarnation? Why not – as Jodie Foster stated to Hannibal the Cannibal – “look at yourself in the mirror and write down what you see!” So I did. I thought after my second entry I was next in line to get fired, but I could keep up this form of writing for over a year. A big surprise, you said it.

Because, once you start pushing it and just focus on the reflection in the mirror and write down exactly what you see – without an editor around the corner screaming that you shouldn’t use the same words in writing as the words you use in the private of your own home – you are in the constant danger of being accused of being too fierce.

Do we know some authors, who have actually pushed the limits in their writing and still got published? Milorad Pavic for instance, who wrote a male and female version of the very same book. Or Kobo Abe in his novel Kangaroo Notebook, but then again, it’s just an experimental story. The writing maintains traditional. And what about Andy Warhol’s “A”? This was basically written by a typist once Andy said: “Today, I want… to write… uhm… a… uhm… book!” And he took all his tapes he made in The Factory and the typist typed all the conversations to paper and – applause, applause – there was the novel “A”. Pushing the limit? I don’t think so.

To understand an author who is pushing the limits, one has to understand what “pushing the limits” means. Is it: ignoring the deadlines – like yours truly does? Or is making up new words – or on purpose typos. Or do we mean House of Leaves Revisited?

And – to be honest – I don’t know anymore. Writing has always been the same. One can write beautifully crafted sentences, but they’re still just sentences at the end of the day. It’s a difficult terrain to wander. And what I find pushing-the-limit, the next guy finds bordering-Victorian-boredom– to state something.

Was De Sade truly pushing the limits or did his 120 Days of Sodom just didn’t fit the time-frame? And didn’t Hunter S. Thompson just write down what he saw, while digesting huge amounts of Benzedrine and other Cool Aid-like substances? Was it a limit? Did he truly push it? I don’t think so.

Make up your own mind: I will hand you two sentences and you can pick the one that truly pushes the limits in writing.

One: “His remorse came on just like a green pony, which he rode up and down a hill for the longest time he could remember – if only he hadn’t smoked that much pine-apple-tea in his childhood, he could actually make up his freaking mind about the subject.”
Two: “Y d.o.e.s. Ur

TNUC
Taste


Lk




Eating donut s

On


A


R a re
Okasion.”

You could say that with both the sentences the limits where slightly pushed, but we’ve seen it all before. The only thing remaining is a complete novel written in binary language. But who wants to read that? Or write that, by that matter.

I just do what I do. Write down what I see and like I see it. And if it hurts you, turn the other way. I cannot help it. Honestly I can’t.

But that slightly contradicts with my conclusion that – you didn’t miss it, did you? – pushing the limits in writing simply doesn’t exist. So I don’t push it in writing. I try to do other stuff that freaks people out. And then write about it.

So, in conclusion – once more – the only limit I pushed was to publish the first edition of “Visions” with a Dutch ISBN number and my latest novel – written in Dutch – with an American ISBN. A morbid sence of humor, I guess. But it’s where I draw the line. It’s the limit… For me…

About Visions:

Visions is a collection of columns written for the e-zine The Noise. A surprisingly intimate portrait on life and every day politics, accomplished with a fierce manner of writing.

Inspired by his own research for the musical album 'Notes from Purgatory', Jean Koning digs deep into the well of his personal life and blends the stories he found there with his experiences and visions of the American Way of Life, to portray a whirlwind of emotion, anger and doubt.

Dipped deep in a cocktail of absurdity and melancholy, the swift stories are built upon the eagerness to achieve a deeper understanding in trends, hypes and the corrupt world of commercial art.

The stories' subjects change as swiftly as the Dutch climate. From Amsterdam hookers to New York art openings and the ongoing war in Iraq. From the duality toward American lifestyles and Hollywood productions to Barbie and Ken in a setting of ironic perversity. From a heartfelt letter full of tips for Hillary Clinton to a remarkable talk show with Oprah Winfrey.

Visions is a humoristic approach of the life we lead today, with a huge comment made on worldwide politics. This is our planet today, with America as the prime suspect, Europe as the jury and Koning himself as the brutal judge.

Surprisingly enough, Koning doesn't point a finger of blame at anyone without pointing that finger at himself first."

Monday, June 15, 2009

Jeffrey B. Allen Shares Insight into the cover art for Gone Away Into the Land



Joining us today is Jeffrey B. Allen, author of the philisophical inspirational novel, Gone Away Into the Land.

This ambitious yarn follows twelve-year-old John Greber who, along with his mother Ellie, is the object of abuse at the hands of John’s father whom he names “The Beast.”

One day, “The Beast” abandons John and his mother while at the same time snatching away John’s six-year-old sister Marny. John vows to seek revenge, confront his repulsive father, and rescue his sister Marny. As we discover, all of this transpires during a time where John and his mother will be indirectly involved in a Civil War that has far reaching repercussions that may lead to the destruction of the world. Tagging along with John and his mother, Allen cleverly uses his mind-boggling world as a vehicle in understanding what life is all about and the human condition. This is particularly in evidence as we witness John’s challenge of making the transition from childhood to adulthood as he self-examines the big questions in life as well as the nature of good and evil, the meaning of life and the quest to understand himself.

After reading a detailed synopsis of the book, I wondered about the cover art, which I find simple and fascinating. I asked Jeffrey to discuss the significance of the cover art to his story.

Jeffrey's turn: When Wandering Sage Publishing and I were developing the ideas for the cover, I must have done ten covers myself. They all had to do with the story. The publisher rejected them all, saying they were too busy. He came up with the current cover. I liked it immediately because it was a powerful looking cover. To me it does not key in on the story, but instead, speaks more to the philosophy of the story.

The main character, John Greber, is severely beaten by his abusive father. The reader will get the impression that John has either died or gone into an unconscious dream state.

As one moves further into the story, John’s journey into the Land becomes more intense. He loses his urge to question what is happening to him. He stops referring to the events that led to his beating and the abduction of his sister. John moves into the present. There is never any mention of time from that point on. There is no passing of the days. The entire story takes place without any reference to universal cycles, such as weather, or day and night. There is no direction to the light of the Land. It seems to come from everywhere. There are no human needs to satisfy such as hunger or sleep. John moves into a whole new reality, one that is consumed by his desire to find his kidnapped sister and kill his father, who he names "The Beast", and who is growing larger and more grotesque as the story matures.

The cover is a spotlight on the mountain that represents John’s difficult journey, but also an indication that he is not alone. He is accompanied by the energy of the human spirit, whether one calls that energy God or not does not matter. It is John’s journey. Gone Away imparts to the reader one boy’s journey, but the novel suggests that someday we will all take our own journey. One that will be unique to us, guided by how we lived our lives and how we perceived we lived our lives, as opposed to being judged by a supreme being for the way we lived.

In the end, John reaches the proverbial top of the mountain and finds his peace. He has, thus, reconciled the deep questions that had plagued him in life, and will embark on a whole new life, a whole new reality. One with a great purpose.

Thank you.

Jeffrey B. Allen
www.jeffreyballen.com

Jeffrey B. Allen studied art at Bloomsburg University for two years before attending Boston University where he majored in history and minored in set design and fine arts. A one year hiatus, in the form a hitchhiking trip, served only to heighten his restless and inquisitive nature. Allen attributes those early journeys to laying the foundations for his views about politics and religion and the relationship they share with historical perspective.

Later, he traveled through Europe and Mexico where his compulsive curiosity with historical myth and legend intensified, especially for the interpretations that obscure the truths underlying foreign and American cultures. Allen was fascinated by the way events are twisted and misconstrued within historical writings because of religious beliefs or political power brokering. Those years of learning, searching, and questioning have contributed greatly to the philosophical depth of his writing. Allen continues to this day to study, research, and philosophize about the positive and negative effects on our culture due to an over abundance of historical and religious misconceptions.

Jeffrey Allen graduated from Millersville State University in architectural design and taught for two years while also working toward his Masters degree at Temple University in Philadelphia. After a brief teaching career, he created his own architectural woodworking firm in 1980.

By 1982, Allen was owner and president of Artistic Furnishings Incorporated, a design house and manufacturer of custom architectural millwork. The company employed designers, artisans and support staff. His work can be seen throughout eastern Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey in private residences and businesses. Today, Allen resides in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania where he still works in the field of interior space planning, although most of his time is devoted to writing.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sisters Collaborate To Write About Brothers: K.M. Daughters and Beyond the Code of Conduct


We have a special treat for you today. The writing team of K.M. Daughters is here to talk about collaboration. The idea of sharing the effort with another writer has always intrigued me. How does it come about? How much effort does each person contribute? What happens if two people have different visions for the same piece of work? And while collaborating can be challenging, what happens when you're writing a book with one of your sisters?

It certainly looks like the sister writing team of K.M. Daughters has figured out a way to make it work.

K.M. Daughters is the multi-published writing team of sisters Pat Casiello and Kathie Clare. Their penname is dedicated to their parents Katherine and Michael, the “K” and “M” in K.M. Daughters. Their author career began in January 2008 with contracts from The Wild Rose Press for an inspirational romance, Jewel of the Adriatic, and a romantic suspense novel, Against Doctors Orders, Book #1 in The Sullivan Boys Series. Beyond The Code of Conduct, Book 2 in the series, is rated 4-stars, compelling, page turner, by Donna M. Brown, Reviewer for Romantic Times Book Reviews (June 2009 Issue #304). A contemporary romance, Past, Present and Forever is available in E-book from Sapphire Blue Publishing. Residing in Illinois and New Jersey, the sisters continue to work on The Sullivan Boys Series. Book #3 will release later this year and two additional books are anticipated to complete the series. You can visit their website at www.kmdaughters.com and follow them at http://twitter.com/kmdaughters.

Here, K.M. Daughters talks of how they have collaborated to write about brothers.

Sisters Collaborate To Write About Brothers
by K. M. Daughters

We’re not forgetting about Kay Lynch nee Sullivan, the only sister among six brothers in our Sullivan Boys romantic suspense series. But, to date, each of the books in the series focuses on one Sullivan brother in the hero role searching for his perfect match.

Beyond The Code of Conduct, Book 2 in the series tells Joe Sullivan and Bobbie Leighton’s story. Introduced as secondary characters in Book 1 (Against Doctors Orders), the pair have a history clouded with what Joe considers tragedy. Although he saved Bobbie’s life in the midst of crisis in the first book, Joe was gravely injured. His bravery cost him his career as an active homicide detective.

We had a blast writing these characters. Joe overcompensates to prove to his superiors he’s fit for active duty and as the book opens he’s “Iron-man” conditioned and a rather forbidding attitude – wonderful to write. Bobbie has finally found a career fit at the end of a long line of odd jobs. She thinks she’s moved on and forgotten Joe until they’re brought together again. Behind the scenes manipulations not only require their partnership working an undercover operation but also that they live under the same roof posing as a married couple.

Bobbie and Joe’s physicality in conflict versus book one’s Molly and Danny’s subtle maturity appealed to us and was fun to write. As we continue the series we’re discovering the personality differences among the brothers – a real family dynamic considering birth order, sibling rivalry, etc.

Since we’re each other’s only siblings our family dynamic is simple – oldest, youngest, duke it out. We tried to knock each other brainless when we were kids and had our share of screaming matches when we were teenagers. When the first of us went off to college, we acknowledged an astounding truth. We hated separation. It’s ironic that we live half a country apart considering that sentiment is no less true a couple decades later.

Maybe that’s why our writing collaborations are so special to us. Long distance or not, when we’re writing, we’re living in the same worlds with the same immediacy. And in the case of the Sullivan brothers, we can play out all those things that make us different yet uniquely close as siblings.

More about Beyond the Code of Conduct:

FBI Agency Brass and Sullivan family connections force Special Agent Bobbie Leighton into an undercover operation with inactive Homicide Detective Joe Sullivan.

Posing as a cattleman and his arm-candy wife the couple is assigned to infiltrate NY attorney Bradley Sterling’s illegal operation. Suspected of baby trafficking, Sterling maybe be connected with Joe’s brother, Jimmy Sullivan’s murder.

How do Bobbie and Joe adhere to their professional code of conduct living under the same roof? Can they forget their personal history, ignore their volatile feelings for each other and ensnare their target when they might be next on Sterling’s victims list?

Now available from Amazon.com.

Magic, Mensa, and Mayhem by Karina Fabian--Book Review


Humor, mystery, and fantasy combine to create an outstanding story in Magic, Mensa and Mayhem by Karina L. Fabian.

This was not going to be one of those STUC (Save-the-Universe Cases). Just an all-expense paid trip to Florida to chaperone a group of Magicals at a Mensa convention for Vern the dragon detective and his partner, the mage Sister Grace.

Well, someone forgot to tell the pixies. They start pulling their pranks. Then the Brownies start cleaning and organizing things they aren't supposed to and a hyped up elf who is behind the times might declare war on Florida. And as if that's not bad enough, there's a Native American Trickster who can change forms and a Valkyrie heroine of legend who has turned her attention to bodybuilding and fashion design, both of whom create a little chaos of their own.

So much for that cushy job!

If you are looking for a deep fantasy novel, this isn't it. Magic, Mensa and Mayhem is, however, one of the most uproariously funny books you'll ever read. Honestly, I laughed so hard that my husband thought I had found my decades-long missing sense of humor.

Fabian proves once again that she is a master storyteller. Who else could combine a dragon detective, a magical nun, a host of other bizarre characters and Oprah, and make it work so well?

Now, keeping in mind that I am not a huge fan of the fantasy genre, this book hooked me from the very first sentence. Actually, the Acknowledgements section caught my eye first, and I rarely read those. Fabian shares how the book came about, the origin of Vern, how she entered into a relationship with publisher Dindy Robinson of Swimming Kangaroo Books and talks about where you can find Vern online.

Included at the end are two appendices. The first is "Uncle Vern's Glossary of Faerie and Mundane Terms" and the second contains the "Pronunciation of Elvish Names" found in the book and includes brief comments about each elf. Both appendices are as devilishly funny as the rest of the book.

Magic, Mensa and Mayhem is a must read for anyone who enjoys a funny, offbeat story.

I leave you with a Vern quote that is also included at the back of the book:

"...Wisdom of the Ages, Knowledge of Eternity, and I end up a babysitter at the Smart Humans' Convention."


Title: Magic, Mensa and Mayhem
Author: Karina L. Fabian
Publisher: Swimming Kangaroo Books
ISBN: 978-1-934041-78-9
SRP: $13.99

Sisters Collaborate To Write About Brothers: K.M. Daughters and Beyond the Code of Conduct


We have a special treat for you today. The writing team of K.M. Daughters is here to talk about collaboration. The idea of sharing the effort with another writer has always intrigued me. How does it come about? How much effort does each person contribute? What happens if two people have different visions for the same piece of work? And while collaborating can be challenging, what happens when you're writing a book with one of your sisters?

It certainly looks like the sister writing team of K.M. Daughters has figured out a way to make it work.

K.M. Daughters is the multi-published writing team of sisters Pat Casiello and Kathie Clare. Their penname is dedicated to their parents Katherine and Michael, the “K” and “M” in K.M. Daughters. Their author career began in January 2008 with contracts from The Wild Rose Press for an inspirational romance, Jewel of the Adriatic, and a romantic suspense novel, Against Doctors Orders, Book #1 in The Sullivan Boys Series. Beyond The Code of Conduct, Book 2 in the series, is rated 4-stars, compelling, page turner, by Donna M. Brown, Reviewer for Romantic Times Book Reviews (June 2009 Issue #304). A contemporary romance, Past, Present and Forever is available in E-book from Sapphire Blue Publishing. Residing in Illinois and New Jersey, the sisters continue to work on The Sullivan Boys Series. Book #3 will release later this year and two additional books are anticipated to complete the series. You can visit their website at www.kmdaughters.com and follow them at http://twitter.com/kmdaughters.

Here, K.M. Daughters talks of how they have collaborated to write about brothers.

Sisters Collaborate To Write About Brothers
by K. M. Daughters

We’re not forgetting about Kay Lynch nee Sullivan, the only sister among six brothers in our Sullivan Boys romantic suspense series. But, to date, each of the books in the series focuses on one Sullivan brother in the hero role searching for his perfect match.

Beyond The Code of Conduct, Book 2 in the series tells Joe Sullivan and Bobbie Leighton’s story. Introduced as secondary characters in Book 1 (Against Doctors Orders), the pair have a history clouded with what Joe considers tragedy. Although he saved Bobbie’s life in the midst of crisis in the first book, Joe was gravely injured. His bravery cost him his career as an active homicide detective.

We had a blast writing these characters. Joe overcompensates to prove to his superiors he’s fit for active duty and as the book opens he’s “Iron-man” conditioned and a rather forbidding attitude – wonderful to write. Bobbie has finally found a career fit at the end of a long line of odd jobs. She thinks she’s moved on and forgotten Joe until they’re brought together again. Behind the scenes manipulations not only require their partnership working an undercover operation but also that they live under the same roof posing as a married couple.

Bobbie and Joe’s physicality in conflict versus book one’s Molly and Danny’s subtle maturity appealed to us and was fun to write. As we continue the series we’re discovering the personality differences among the brothers – a real family dynamic considering birth order, sibling rivalry, etc.

Since we’re each other’s only siblings our family dynamic is simple – oldest, youngest, duke it out. We tried to knock each other brainless when we were kids and had our share of screaming matches when we were teenagers. When the first of us went off to college, we acknowledged an astounding truth. We hated separation. It’s ironic that we live half a country apart considering that sentiment is no less true a couple decades later.

Maybe that’s why our writing collaborations are so special to us. Long distance or not, when we’re writing, we’re living in the same worlds with the same immediacy. And in the case of the Sullivan brothers, we can play out all those things that make us different yet uniquely close as siblings.

More about Beyond the Code of Conduct:

FBI Agency Brass and Sullivan family connections force Special Agent Bobbie Leighton into an undercover operation with inactive Homicide Detective Joe Sullivan.

Posing as a cattleman and his arm-candy wife the couple is assigned to infiltrate NY attorney Bradley Sterling’s illegal operation. Suspected of baby trafficking, Sterling maybe be connected with Joe’s brother, Jimmy Sullivan’s murder.

How do Bobbie and Joe adhere to their professional code of conduct living under the same roof? Can they forget their personal history, ignore their volatile feelings for each other and ensnare their target when they might be next on Sterling’s victims list?

Now available from Amazon.com.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Norm Applegate and Blood Bar



Today's guest blogger is Norm Applegate, author of Blood Bar.

Norman Applegate is an author and consultant, with a growing body of work to his credit. Born in Glasgow Scotland, growing up in Toronto Canada and now residing in Florida with his wife Cheryl, Norm Applegate works and travels for an international consulting company, then occasionally scares the “heck” out of his family with his thoughts and writings.

His early years in Toronto were filled with aspirations of the late 60’s hippie music scene, and as a drummer in numerous bands led to a short lived career playing the bars and clubs in the Toronto area. The band Photograph, signed to a recording studio, made some noise on the coast to coast CBC radio show, the Entertainers, and after the legal issues strangled them into submission, they went their separate ways. The life of drugs, sex and rock and roll were over, sad but true.

His first novel, Into the Basement, a raw dark thriller introduced us to his unlikely heroine Kim Bennett and is scheduled for a movie release in 2009 with Triad Studios. The cast for the movie includes Courtney Gains, Naama Kates, Jonathan Breck, Two Foot Fred, Nicola Fiore, Jamie McCall, and a seasoned crew of horror and TV actors.

His follow up novel, Into the Spell, continued with Kim Bennett and the dark world of hypnosis, the paranormal and murder. Early 2008, Norm released a short story called “Jumpers”, with a Twilight Zone feel to it in the horror anthology “From the Shadows”.

Currently Mr. Applegate is a resident of Sarasota Florida, where he is working as a principle for the movie Into the Basement, a new horror thriller, and a sequel to Blood Bar.

For more information about Norman and his upcoming projects go to www.normanapplegate.com.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Vampires don’t exist...yet, on the brownstone back alley side streets of New York, a vampire dies. Desperate, his lover turns to Kim Bennett, author Norm Applegate’s quintessential heroine whose passion for S&M led to celebrity status as a hell-and-back murder mystery sleuth who’s been there, done that, and then some. This time, Kim finds herself caught between a secret vampire society’s attempts to locate The Black Testament (a sacred document written by Jack the Ripper), the modern-day vampire hunters bent on their destruction, and a white knuckled journey of self-discovery that catapults her into the bowels of hell and the arms of the ultimate vampire.......courtesy of The Haven, New York’s ultimate BLOOD BAR.

Norm is going to share a bit about Blood Bar with us today. Here's hoping even this brief mention doesn't give you nightmares!

You’re becoming a vampire, that was the premise to my recent novel Blood Bar with former S&M dominatrix Kim Bennett, a hell-and-back murder mystery sleuth who’s been there, done that, and then some.

With vampires we expect murder, erotic romance and adventure. To deliver that, we need a sensual male or female lover, Blood Bar delivers both. For adventure, Kim is placed in a murder, a search for the Black Testament a secret document written by Jack the Ripper which exposes the genealogy of the modern day vampire, and along the way some crazy distractions.

In creating dynamics with characters I look for opposites or at least something unexpected. In Blood Bar, I’ve placed a North American Indian Detective, Cheyenne Billings Montana, a vampire hunter who bonds with Kim, but is chasing the vampire she falls in love with Nicolai Avelli, a handsome Italian.

Adding to the cast, we have Erin Roberts, who like her father, never smiled a day in her life except when she was killing someone, and she is killing vampires.

For gore, we have vampire, Holger the beast Weinmar, who had the reputation of a primal animal, evil and aggressive, who would tear people and animals apart just for the pleasure of feeding violently.

To make the vampire killing somewhat different this is a paragraph from the novel.

Nicolai witnessed the removal of seventy-two choice chunks of fingers, toes, arms and legs, spread from largest to smallest on a white linen table like meat in a butcher shop, as the Beast meticulously went to work on the poor soul. The blade thick with yellow stringy fat carved through the soft flesh to the white of the bone leaving behind a mass of quivering wet carcass that heaved with each breath it took. Slice seventy-three was the delicate removal of the larynx, and with a suction sound it popped out releasing a gush of red spray and a hissing whisper of air.

The humorous part, all my characters are composites of friends and family, and when you study people, look deep, we’re all a little strange.

All the best,
Norm Applegate
May 2009
www.normanapplegate.com

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dorothea Hover-Kramer Talks about Limiting Beliefs and How to Treat Them


Today's special guest is Dorothea Hover-Kramer, author of Second Chance at Your Dream. This new book is the first book to apply the breakthrough insights of energy psychology to stress-free aging. Energy Psychology is an exciting new healing method that changes the vibrational patterns in the body’s energy fields to produce rapid emotional healing and a sense of well-being. With the help of the over fifty exercises for rebalancing yourself offered in this book, you can face the challenges and opportunities of later life to create a time of energy, abundance and joy.

One of the topics from this book discusses changing limiting beliefs. I've asked Dorothea to discuss this topic for us today.

Limiting Beliefs and Three Ways to Treat Them
by Dorothea Hover-Kramer, Ed.D., RN, DCEP
website: www.secondchancedream.com

Have you ever wondered if new advances in science could change the way you see the world? Or, have you thought, “Maybe, it’s too late for me to change my worldview”?

If so, you’re in the same boat with many others who have limiting beliefs about later life and its seemingly downhill path. Actually, some to the strongest myths about aging are being debunked by surprising recent scientific advances.

Some of the prevailing myths held that brain cells don’t regenerate, that new learning is difficult or non-existent after age sixty or seventy, and that our genetic material is a fixed reality. In truth, these myths have been debunked. Neuroplasticity of brain cells is evident in the many ways we can recover from illness to let other parts of the brain take over; or, as hearing decreases, our sense of touch or taste may actually become more acute. Neureogenesis, reproduction of brain cells, happens in people of all ages as science unlocks mysteries of the human mind which is especially supported by seeking out learning activities and novel experiences. The human mind is incredibly capable and flexible when we choose to recharge our interest in life. Similarly, genetic material can express from its protective sheaths to increase cellular healing when we are open-minded and able to release stress. The human body and its electromagnetic energy system are a vibrant accumulation of flexible and capable potentials just waiting to be discovered.

1.The first step to releasing limiting beliefs is to notice their presence. It’s often easier to see negative patterns in others, and from there we might begin to notice a few of our own. Phrases like, “I’m too old for new stuff,” “I can’t change,” “This is just who I am” express a mindset, not a truth.

2. We continue by affirming we are more than the limiting belief and that it’s all right to start by acknowledging someone else’s pattern of thinking you don’t like. “Even though__(state the name)__ believes___(state the belief)_, I deeply and profoundly accept and respect myself.” Repeat this phrase until it becomes natural for you and add a gently rub to the mid-chest, heart center area. This thought pattern combined with touch begins a gradual path to recognizing you are much more than your beliefs, your limitations or problems.

3. We add choosing a positive idea or goal. Thus, the reminder phrase change in this way, “Even though I worry about my future, I still deeply and profoundly accept and respect myself and I choose to do something I really enjoy _(name the activity)___/or I choose to find out more about____ (the new biology and its implications for my life).”

As you open to these possible actions, horizons literally expand. There is so much more to do to fill life with meaning. I recently overheard a conversation at a coffee shop. An elderly man complained to his buddy, “I went to the doctor yesterday and it was a total waste of time. I sat around and wasted the whole day waiting for test results.” The friend replied thoughtfully “Well, I always take a book to read with me, so a trip to the doctor is filled with something useful to do. I also send good wishes to the others in the waiting room because they need all the help they can get. Doctors seem overly busy but I’m sure glad we have them.”

Which view would you like to encourage within yourself? Which is less stressful and more satisfying? It’s never too late to create the life you want with your attitude and intention.


Dr. Dorothea Hover-Kramer is a psychologist and clinical nurse specialist in private practice who has authored 6 books about energy therapies including her most recent entitled Second Chance At Your Dream. She is co-founder and past president of the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology, an international network of therapists and health care professionals utilizing energy-based approaches for emotional freedom and healing. You can visit her website at www.secondchancedream.com.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Five Sales Pitch Fundamentals That Win Business in a Recession by Joey Asher


Today's special guest is Joey Asher, President of Speechworks and author of How to Win a Pitch: The Five Fundamentals that Will Distinguish You from the Competition.

Keeping your current customers satisfied and securing new business is vital to a company's success, especially during tough economic times such as these. Today, Joey Asher discusses the Five Fundamentals found in How to Win a Pitch and how they can help you.


The difference between life and death for many businesses today is one big win – one new piece of business that will allow your firm to ride out the economic storm. If that’s the case for your business, then you better know how to deliver a killer pitch: a new business presentation that allows your firm to stand out from the competition.

Over the last 23 years, my business has helped businesses win billions of dollars in new business contracts. In that time, we have learned that the key to winning business isn’t showing that you’re the “best”. Your prospect usually can’t tell which firm is the best. And if you’re on a short list of candidate companies pitching for the business, all your competition is most likely excellent.

Rather, the key is showing that you’re going to be the best partner for the project. To do that, you need to execute five fundamentals.

Fundamental #1. Present a solution and nothing else. Many of your competitors start presentations by talking about themselves. “Before we start, let me tell you about how our company began . . .” Blah. Blah. Blah. Who cares? Your prospect only cares about is how you can save them money, grow their revenues, or reduce their risk. Detail your plan to help your prospect and tell stories about how the plan has worked for others.

Fundamental #2. Keep it simple. I watched three construction firms pitch to build a new school. No presentation had less than 10 points. None of the messages were memorable. Instead, you should hammer at three messages. “We’ll build your project on time. We’ll meet your budget. We’ll deliver quality work.” Simplicity separates you from the competition.

Fundamental #3. Speak with Passion. If you’re one of three firms competing, you know that your competition can do a great job. Personal style can be the separator. “When it’s close, many of the decisions just come down to who connects with us best,” one CEO told me. Passion in the voice helps you connect.

Fundamental #4. Leave half of your time for questions. Questions address your prospect’s hot buttons. Your competition often makes Q&A an afterthought. Avoid that mistake.

Fundamental #5. Rehearse. “I can always tell who has rehearsed,” said one CEO who has heard hundreds of sales presentations. Most people don’t rehearse much. Practicing sets you apart.

In a recession, the pool of new business is small. Focus on fundamentals to grab your share.

This article is adapted from Joey Asher’s new book “How to Win a Pitch: The Five Fundamentals that Will Distinguish You from the Competition. It is available at www.howtowinapitch.com and on Amazon. To read Joey’s blog go to www.talkingpointsblog.com.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Lizzie's Rake by Hazel Statham--Book Review


Be swept away by an historical romance that will leave you feeling satisfied, in Lizzie's Rake by Hazel Statham.

Infamous rake and Corinthian, Maxim Beaufort, Earl of St. Ive, winds up in possession of a property in Yorkshire after a card game. Traveling to see what fixes would be necessary to make Briarfield ready for sale, the earl finds the former owner's daughter, Elizabeth Granger and her siblings living on the estate. Maxim is drawn to Lizzie, but she refuses to have anything to do with the man who plans to steal her home.

When a suspicious fire destroys Briarfield, Maxim makes plans for Lizzie and her younger siblings to temporarily live on his estate. Sharing an appreciation for horses, but little else, Elizabeth rejectes Maxim's proposal of marriage. Her trust having been betrayed before, Lizzie doesn't find it easy to trust anyone, and the earl's reputation with the ladies certainly doesn't win her over. But the earl is known as "The Indomitable" and he's not about to give up.

This is the second book by Hazel Statham that I've read, and I know I'll be first in line when her next book comes out.

In Lizzie's Rake, Statham has once again created a cast of interesting and complex characters who pull you immediately into the storyline. Other than her complete knowledge of the Regency era and her ability to paint the picture for her reader, Statham's greatest strength is her characters. Multi-faceted, and yet, seemingly simple and straightforward at times, Lizzie, Maxim, and a host of other characters make this Regency romance a charming and delightful read.

A romance novel that every reader will feel comfortable sharing, the perfect combination of characters, an interesting plot, a tiny bit of mystery, and a love of horses work together to create a story that you'll want to read more than once.

Lizzie's Rake by Hazel Statham is Regency romance at its finest.


Title: Lizzie's Rake
Author: Hazel Statham
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
ISBN: 1-60154-465-0
SRP: $11.99 (U.S.)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Crystal Storm and Synarchy Book 1: The Awakening


Today's guest blogger is Crystal Storm, author of the suspense thriller Synarchy Book 1: The Awakening.

Thirteen bloodlines, The Brotherhood, fanatically loyal to their gods, the Anunnaki, have controlled the planet since his-story was written. In 1925 Stefano Vasco Terenzio, head of the Terenzio crime family makes a deal with the Anunnaki to solidify his control over the American Mafia. Clever and manipulative, Stefano’s true goal was to put his family in a position so one day they would be able to turn on their masters.

Two generations later, the shockwave he ignited was still being felt. Now, as the world inches closer to 2012, time is running out. The only thing in the Brotherhood's way is Terenzio, a family now divided as a truly epic battle begins that will determine whether mankind continues existing in a world of lies, or shatters the chains that have held it prisoner since his-story was written.

Shocking yet hopeful, Synarchy slowly unravels the tightly laced reality we have created for ourselves. Blending the metaphysical with conspiracy, fact with fiction, debut author DCS has opened up a world that will force you to rethink everything you believe about your own. The knowledge within provokes the question;do you really want to know?

My understanding of this book is that is combines many different elements: romance, lust for power, betrayal, evil, conspiracy theories and more. I've asked Crystal to discuss the challenges of combining all those elements.

Crystal's turn:

Most books will pick one issue and focus on that, but there was a message I wanted to impart to the readers within the fiction, and it really required that I weave all those elements together. It helps that my mind works in those complex ways so it wasn’t too big of a challenge to combine everything. It kind of popped into my head that I could link this up that way, and do this that way and here we are. When I started putting it all together it flowed really well. There was a lot of back work though, that went into it to make sure that I had all the dots connected when I was finished.

When I sit down to write a scene it starts in my head a big chaotic jumble, like taking the pieces of a puzzle and tossing them into a pile on the floor. Then I’ll begin to weave ideas together, and once it gets going, it can go on for a while. I can spend days upon days locked in my creative world. I’m a little OCD about the details, and I think I suffer from too many ideas syndrome. There were a lot of times when writing I had to stop, grab a pen and a blank piece of paper and make a quick outline, to remind myself of all the plot lines I was tying together. There’s a lot going on in Synarchy and Book Two will be just as intense if not a little faster paced.

I have an index card for every character, it’s got their birth date and any information that I think I need to reference at a quick glance on it. When I was done with the novel, I summarized every single scene on an index card, and then spread them out in chronological order on my floor to make sure the timeline of events made sense, since it goes back and forth a lot. It was in doing this that I realized just how detailed I’d made it!

Ultimately, the readers will let me know if I’ve succeeded in successfully combing all those elements together. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. I hope they enjoy reading Book One as much as I did writing it. Thanks for letting me swing by Cheryl!

CRYSTAL STORM, aka DCS, was born in Alexandria, VA. DCS now lives in New Orleans, LA. Synarchy Book 1: The Awakening is her debut novel. A self taught world student, her studies cover the 2012 mystery, quantum mechanics, metaphysics, parasphysic science, conspiracies and strange phenomenon.

Taking full advantage of the creative energy of New Orleans, she is hard at work on the second book in the Synarchy Series, The Ascension and several short stories loosely based off of a few characters from the book, but following more along the vein of the txt based roleplay game, Synarchy 2012.

You can find out more about the Synarchy Series by visiting www.synarchynovel.com.

You can listen to an excerpt from Synarchy Book 1: The Awakening below:

Vote for No Sanctuary by F.M. Meredith at The New Covey Video Trailer Awards


Hello all,

The trailer I put together for F.M. Meredith's (Marilyn Meredith's) No Sanctuary is now up at The New Covey Video Trailer Awards. Voting is open until midnight on June 19th.

Please stop by and vote for entry # 14 No Sanctuary at http://thenewcoveytrailerawards.blogspot.com/.

Thanks. I appreciate your support.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Dr. Ronald J. Frederick on Living Like You Mean It



I'm very excited to have Dr. Ronald J. Frederick as today's guest blogger. His book, Living Like You Mean It: Use the Wisdom and Power of Your Emotions to Get the Life You Really Want shares with you his proven four-step approach to overcoming fear and connecting more deeply with yourself and others.

Writers deal with self-doubt and fear often. Not only do we doubt our abilities, but we can be afraid of failing, afraid of succeeding, and afraid that no matter what we do it can't possibly be good enough.

With Living Like You Mean It: Use the Wisdom and Power of Your Emotions to Get the Life You Really Want you'll learn to:

* Break through old patterns and get unstuck,

* Open up to the energy and resources inside you and feel motivated,

* Get in touch with your personal truth and put an end to confusion and indecisiveness,

* Experience a profound sense of meaning, purpose, and belonging,

* Deepen and enrich your relationships and feel closer to those you love,

* Realize your true potential and experience greater fulfillment and happiness,

* ….and live your life like you mean it!


Today Dr. Frederick will discuss the power of fear and how it keeps us from achieving what we want.

The ability to live like you mean it hinges on being able to be emotionally present in our lives—really being there for the happy times and coming through the difficult times a much better person. It’s our feelings that make us feel alive and vital, energize us to meet and deal with life’s challenges, and point us in the best direction to get what we really want. Our feelings are what bridge the gap between ourselves and others, enliven our relationships, and help us feel close. Our personal identity—the core of who we are—is largely formed by what we feel and how we react. Our likes and dislikes, what makes us happy, what makes us sad, what excites us, what brings us pleasure, what annoys or frustrates us—all say so much about who we are. It’s in our feelings that we find our true authentic self.

Unfortunately, many of us are uncomfortable with our feelings. We have what I call a “feelings phobia.” We get close to our feelings, start to feel anxious, and avoid them. We do all these things to steer clear of our feelings—behaviours we’re not even aware we’re doing. When we avoid or deny our feelings, when we suppress them, we are in a way denying who we are, squelching our creativity and individuality, and sacrificing our true potential and power. It’s impossible to go the distance, to really live like you mean it, unless we can be fully present with our feelings.

But, as I discuss in my new book Living Like You Mean It: Use the Wisdom and Power of Your Emotions to Get the Life You Really Want, change is possible. We can loosen the grip of fear on our experience and unleash our inner wisdom and power. It all begins with opening our eyes and waking up to what’s going on inside of us. We need to find a way to put the brakes on, slow down, and tune in to our internal experience. In short, we need to develop what I call emotional mindfulness. Emotional mindfulness is about purposely paying attention to our physically felt emotional experience as it happens with the aim of helping us be more consciously aware of our feelings and, ultimately, more fully present with them.

How do you do this? You start by slowing down, going inward and just noticing. At any time you want to, stop and ask yourself, What am I feeling? and then tune in to what’s happening inside you right in that moment. Not what you think should be happening, not what you wish were happening, but what is happening. Consciously direct your attention to your felt experience. Watch and observe.

Each time you repeat this behaviour, each time you bring your focus back to your body sensations, you’re developing a new habit. You’re training your mind to be aware of and pay attention to your emotional experience. You’re opening up to a richer experience of yourself. You’re making room for your creative juices to flow. And, you’re beginning to transform your life.

To find out more about living like you mean it, please visit: www.livinglikeyoumeanit.com.


Ron Frederick is a licensed psychologist and life coach and author of the bestselling book Living Like You Mean It: Use the Wisdom and Power of Your Emotions to Get the Life You Really Want (Jossey-Bass, 2009). A long-time proponent of the power of therapy to transform lives, he co-founded the Center for Courageous Living which offers innovative therapy, coaching, and consulting.

Noted for his warmth, humor, and engaging presentation style, Dr. Ron travels throughout North America as a speaker and trainer, receiving consistent acclaim for his expertise and inviting teaching style. His work has been featured in the APA Monitor on Psychology, Clinical Psychiatry News: The Leading Independent Newspaper for the Psychiatrist, and Lavender Magazine. An invited contributor to several professional books, he has also been quoted on CNN.com.

Dr. Ron is a Senior Faculty Member of the Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP) Institute as well as the supervising psychologist of Abbott Northwestern Hospital’s Park House Day Treatment Program.

Born and raised in New Jersey, Dr. Ron now lives in Minneapolis, MN.