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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Interview With Author Sharon K. Miller



The Clay Sustains


Sharon K. Miller fell in love with words at a young age, and writing became a big part of her life from that moment on. Her fascination with the archaeology and history of the Sonoran Desert and the Indigenous cultures who left their stories etched on and buried in the land inspired the books in the Clay Series—the interconnected tales of three women separated by centuries. She lives beneath the back range of the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, Arizona. See: http://www.sharonkmiller.com


1.      What really inspired you to write your books, to force you from taking an idea or experience and conveying it into a series? There is a state park not far from where I live near Tucson, Arizona, and in the park is an interpretive trail that winds through the ruins of a prehistoric Hohokam village which was inhabited from approximately 200 BC to about 1450 AD. At the same site are the remains of a nineteenth-century homesteader’s house. Signs along the trail describe how the Hohokam lived and farmed the area and how Francisco Romero brought his wife there in the nineteenth century to establish a cattle ranch. The first time I walked this trail, I wondered about Victoriana Romero’s life in this lonely place where Apaches stole their cattle and did battle with her husband, threatening their very existence. My first inclination was to write her story, but I discovered there was very little in the historical record about her. I decided instead to write about a fictitious woman, Esperanza Ramirez, who finds an ancient pot and makes a connection to the Hohokam woman who made it—a connection that helps her deal with loneliness and threats from those who would do her harm. Even though The Clay Endures was the first book I envisioned, it became the second book in the series. The first book, The Clay Remembers, which I conceived of later, involves Anna, an archaeologist who participates in the excavation and study of the site in preparation for the park and the interpretive trail. She finds the broken pieces of the same pot and makes a connection not only to Esperanza and her experiences, but also to the woman who made the pot. The third book, The Clay Sustains, tells of that woman in the twelfth century, at a time when the Hohokam culture in the Tucson basin was in decline. Her struggle is with the village shaman who knows she has a powerful spirit, one which he wants to control for his own purposes. 

2. What is the series about and whom do you believe is your targeted reader? The three books of the series tell the story of one pot and three women across eight hundred years. The stories are unified by the pot and the setting rather than an ongoing set of characters and timeline. In fact, each book can be read as a standalone. Certainly, people who live in and around Tucson who are familiar with Catalina State Park will be interested, but the experiences of my characters, I hope, will resonate with readers everywhere. Most of my readers are women, but I’ve found that I have a fairly significant male following, which is likely due to the fact that my women are not simpering, love-starved beauties who fall prey to a handsome rake who sweeps them off their feet and breaks their hearts before redeeming himself.

3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your books? What should remain with them long after putting them down? I wanted to write stories about strong women, to demonstrate the solidarity of women throughout time, and to show what women are capable of when they are put to the test. The pot connecting these women across the centuries is the symbol of the love, work, and suffering which binds them in shared experience.

4. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers? Find your passion. That’s where the seed that is your book is nourished and where the characters who share that passion are born.

5. What trends in the book world do you see and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? Many “big” publishing companies have merged into conglomerates that, in some ways, limit an author’s opportunities to go the “traditional” route. While it still has a long way to go, self-publishing is making great strides. Professionally done self-published books that meet high standards are available and readers are finding them. The “look inside” feature on many online book retailer’s sites offers more than a preview to capture the reader’s interest. It also offers a chance to evaluate the quality of the work. And that’s a good thing. I think talented independent authors are finding their way into the marketplace.

6. What great challenges did you have in writing your books? Certainly, writing historical fiction offers its own kind of challenges. On the one hand, it’s easy because it offers a ready-made time and place wherein my characters can interact while facing the challenges associated with the time as well as those I create for them. But on the other hand, it’s necessary to remain true to historical events and to the societal influences on those events. Occasionally I may take liberties with the timeline of history; for example, in The Clay Endures, I put the Government Land Office in Tucson several years before it actually opened. There’s a risk involved in doing something like that. Knowledgeable readers may see it as an error, or they may think I care nothing about accuracy. For that reason, all three books in the Clay Series have extensive notes that elaborate on historical events and people and explain any deviations from history that I have introduced.

7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be one of yours? If they buy any one of the three books in the Clay Series, they will come to know a character who was not necessarily strong when she started out, but who fought against the odds and came out on top. The journeys of these women, regardless of when they lived, offer insights into the challenges both men and women face today. Readers will remember Anna, Esperanza, and Ha-wani long after they read their stories.

READ THESE!!
The All-New 2018 Toolkit to Promote a Book -- 7th annual edition

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Why is what you know about book marketing all wrong!

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs

Reasons for an Endless Season of Gratitude


Happy Holiday Wishes From Author & Author Coach Michael Larsen 


The holidays are a time for giving thanks for gifts that go on giving. Each of us is a unique, random, miraculous balance of nature and nurture. A middle-class American life makes it more possible for us than most people on this floating, amazing ecosystem to be grateful for having:

·         Friends and family you love who love you
·         A healthy lifestyle
·         Freedom
·         Food, clothing and shelter
·         Enough income
·         A spiritual practice
·         Access to technology
·         Mobility
·         An inspiring mission
·         Fulfilling work with people you like, respect and admire
·         A life that is a labor of love
·         Access to the knowledge and culture you need and want
·         Opportunities for self-improvement
·         A community that serves your needs and shares your values
·         The ability and chance to create and innovate
·         Opportunities to express gratitude with time, money and civic engagement
·         Reasons to celebrate
·         Daily time with nature
·         Reasons to laugh and smile
·         A balance between:
* yin and yang
* too little and too much
* desire and necessity
* your personal and professional life
* your time online and off
* analog and digital
* service and self-fulfillment
* possessions and experience
* change and stability
·         As simple a life as you can have so you can focus on what has lasting value
·         Optimism

May you find this life worth striving for this holiday season and ever after.

Mike Larsen, Author, Author Coach / www.michaellarsenauthorcoaching.com
Co-director, San Francisco Writers Conference: A Celebration of Craft, Commerce & Community
www.sfwriters.org / info@sfwriters.org
San Francisco Writing for Change Conference: Writing to Make a Difference
www.sfwritingforchange.org / info@sfwriters.org
1029 Jones Street / San Francisco, 94109 / 415-673-0939    


READ THESE!!
The All-New 2018 Toolkit to Promote a Book -- 7th annual edition

Big Marketing Lessons From My All-Time Top 10 Blog Posts

Here are best author-publisher-publishing pro interviews of 2017

Why is what you know about book marketing all wrong!

Should authors go big – or for a sure thing?

16 ways to increase book sales

Study this exclusive author media training video from T J Walker

What does it really take to land on a best-seller list?

Can you sell 10 copies of your book every day?

How do authors get on TV?
  
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs

      

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Interview with author James W. Gaynor



James W. Gaynor, author of Everything Becomes a Poem (Nemeton Press), is a poet, artist, editor, and writer. A graduate of Kenyon College, he lived for years in Paris, where he taught a course on Emily Dickinson at the University of Paris, studied the development of the psychological novel in 17th century France, and worked as a translator.
After returning to New York, Gaynor worked as an editor at Grosset & Dunlap, Cuisine magazine, Scriptwriter News and Forbes Publications. His articles, book reviews, poems and essays have appeared in The New York Observer, OTVmagazine.com, The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, and Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine. As #HaikuJim, Gaynor publishes a daily haiku drawn from current newspaper headlines and is the creator of Can You Haiku? — a corporate communications workshop based on using 17th-century Japanese poetry techniques to improve effective use of today’s digital platforms. Gaynor recently retired as the Global Verbal Identity Leader for Ernst & Young LLP.  For more info, see: www.Jameswgaynor.com

1.                  What really inspired you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and conveying it into a book? In my work as a poet, I’ve long been fascinated by both the authors who create memorable opening and closing lines for their novels. I believe that the lines we often can quote are, in fact, short, unacknowledged poems that get lost in the sentences, paragraphs and chapters that follow.
Middlemarch is a favorite of mine, and several years ago, I wrote a poem, ‘Dorothea Restructured’ based on the novel’s famous closing sentence. The poem has had an interesting cyber-life, and is one of the most ‘shared” of my poems. (I love Facebook for making that possible!) It’s also appeared in several online publications, and I included it in my collection, Everything Becomes a Poem. So, I decided I would make a list of my favorite first and last lines and create a series of poems. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice seemed a logical place to start — and I realized that the first line’s fame has, in a way, cast a shadow over all the other chapters’ first lines — and then I became curious to see what Austen was up to in the rest of her novel, and I took a focused look at the remaining 60 chapter openings.
Where the haiku come in
Haiku are short, Japanese poems, which, in the English tradition, consist of three lines (5 syllables / 7 syllables / 5 syllables). There is something wonderful and powerful in the format. Children study them in grammar school here and adults always seem to respond to learning how to write them.
In the early 80s, I experienced a somewhat predictable, spiritually deracinated-Westerner, child-of-the- 60s fascination with Zen Buddhism. I even flirted with the idea of becoming a monk. In that process, I also studied haiku, ikebana (flower arranging), and kendo (a martial art involving bamboo swords).
One of the things I came to love about entering the austere and beautiful world that embraces both Zen monks and their militaristic Samurai counterparts is that, yes, you’re supposed to be able to slice your opponent into 53 thin pieces with grace and a minimum of blood. But you should also be able to arrange flowers and write poetry. In the Yin and Yang of life, everybody is both an artist and a warrior. It’s up to you to create a coherent whole of your many dimensions.
Long story short: my career as a monk did not work out, and I became an editor of books and magazines, a newspaper essayist, book reviewer and a corporate communications specialist in the financial services industry.
 But for the past 30 years, I have maintained a daily habit of writing a haiku based on the content of both a sentence and the article in which it appears in the New York Times — only I now give the classic syllabic pattern of 5 / 7 / 5 a slant tailored to my secular career as a poet and writer. And, as #HaikuJim, I have a daily haiku that I post on my blog (jameswgaynor.com), and I write contemporary haiku commentary (usually humorous) for OTVmagazine.com. I also teach a haiku workshop for corporate communicators called “Can You Haiku?” that looks at haiku as the forerunner of the Tweet.
Back to Jane Austen
I began to wonder if the 61 chapter-opening lines of Pride and Prejudice could, in fact, be the basis for a series of haiku. If each sentence was a kind of short poem, why couldn’t it become a haiku?
 And the book happened. I had no idea what I was going to do when I finished, but I had a strong sense that I was onto something interesting about Austen’s style and messaging.

2. What is it about and whom do you believe is your targeted reader? The classic haiku contains a duality of message (such as joy in the moment coupled with sadness at its transient nature), and attempts to answer three questions:
1.      What? (the object, the action, e.g., falling leaf or petal, sound of water)
2.      Where? (geography, e.g., house, garden, mountain)
3.      When? (seasonal reference, e.g., spring, summer, winter, fall)
In this book, I created a summarizing word-image haiku of each of the chapters in Pride and Prejudice. In so doing, I found that a somewhat ironic and unexpected voice emerging as each first sentence became a short poem. I began to hear what might be Austen’s acidic feminine wit blending with my 21st-century masculine sensibility — not surprising, given that I fell in love with Jane Austen when I first heard “It is a truth universally acknowledged ...” and she and I have been in a committed relationship for more than 50 years now.
In the book, I replaced the haiku’s traditional duality of emotion with an ironic twist conveyed by the narrator, challenging the usual seriousness of literary criticism. But the haiku’s three situating questions remain in the background, and I’ve identified the primary (and motivating) answers to the What / Where / When as a different way of summarizing the novel’s action.

3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book? What should remain with them long after putting it down? I recently spoke at New York’s Fordham University in New York on how this approach can help readers to discover unexpected insights — and in so doing, provide an alternative to the wet-shirt Firth-Darcy version of P&P that has, in my opinion, unfairly dominated popular understanding of Austen’s clear, sardonic tone. And the students were excited about looking at the novel’s structure and action from a different perspective.
The students were very interested in the first line of Chapter 43:
Elizabeth, as they drove along, watched for the first appearance of Pemberley Woods with some perturbation; and when at length they turned in at the lodge, her spirits were in a high flutter.
Prior to studying the first lines, I hadn’t really noticed the use of the word “flutter.” Elizabeth Bennet, as we all know, is really not a flutterer. So, why now? Why the use of a word more commonly associated with Regency heroines falling in love?
The answer, I think, is that Austen is giving us exactly that clue: Elizabeth has fallen in love. With Darcy as he is represented by his estate, the beloved order-created-from-chaos so near and dear to the late 18-century English ideal. She does not fall in romantic love with Darcy because he is handsome (we don’t really know what he looks like) — she falls in love with him because he has purpose. And, of course, a sizeable estate, but that is really secondary — and the haiku I created reflects this interpretation:
Pemberley produced
a flutter effect. Could this
be real (-estate) love?
After the lecture, one young woman told me the Jane Austen we discussed was exactly the voice she needed guiding her love life — which confirms for me that, 200 years after her death, Austen continues to exert her subtle influence.

4. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers? Write for yourself. Write every day. Kill your adverbs.

5. What trends in the book world do you see and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? Thanks to the ability to self-publish, the book world is now much more open to beginning writers. The internet creates community and this allows writers to find audiences, sometimes specialized and obscure — but audiences nonetheless. And, while the platforms and devices proliferate, there will always be a need for a three-dimensional book with which to curl up.

6. What great challenges did you have in writing your book? Once I started, I had a wonderful time, meeting Austen’s characters in new ways, seeing the action quite differently. For example, by answering the haiku questions of “When” (i.e., seasonal reference), I realized that Pride and Prejudice begins and ends in hunting season. While Bingley and Darcy may have come to Hertfordshire for the shooting, they, in their roles as single-men-in-possession-of-good-fortunes, are the ones being hunted. I don’t think I had appreciated that before I started looking at the novel through a haiku lens. It was only when I was finished that I thought, “OK. What have I just done?” The biggest challenge was determining whether this was a very long poem with 61 stanzas or possibly a book. And then trying to figure out if anyone would ever want to read it.

7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours? Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in 61 Haiku (1,037 Syllables!) is two books for the price of one: a new look at an old favorite for readers familiar with the story; and, for those who haven’t yet read P&P, it’s a great introduction to a classic work of English literature. And yes, Jane Austen had a sense of humor!

READ THESE!!
The All-New 2018 Toolkit to Promote a Book -- 7th annual edition

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Here are best author-publisher-publishing pro interviews of 2017

Why is what you know about book marketing all wrong!

Should authors go big – or for a sure thing?

16 ways to increase book sales

Study this exclusive author media training video from T J Walker

What does it really take to land on a best-seller list?

Can you sell 10 copies of your book every day?

How do authors get on TV?
  

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

10 Major Areas Authors Must Choose For Marketing Their Books



Authors hear a lot of the same advice about book marketing and publicity.  It’s very obvious what needs to be done.  The question is how does one do these things especially with limited time, money, desire, or knowledge?

The best way to tackle this is to first take an overview of things.  Start by identifying your short vs. long term goals.  Those goals will dictate your priorities and help you schedule your time and allocate your resources properly.

Short-term goals might be:
·         Sell more copies of current book.
·         Get more presentations scheduled/book signings.
·         Post on social media to promote a book..
·         Reach out to news media to seek reviews, interviews, byline article, guest-posts, etc.

Long-term goals might be:
·         Developing a stronger platform by increasing connections and followers on an expanded number of social media sites.
·         Build lists of people to reach out to, introducing yourself.
·         Shaping your brand and author persona to help you sell future books.
·         Meeting with organizations, from non-profits and schools to businesses and churches, that can expose you to more fans and readers.

Just look at all of the things you could be doing to market your book or brand and you’ll realize that though there’s a lot of opportunity out there you must narrow down what you’ll do, for how long, and at what cost.  Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should. Go for what will deliver the biggest payoff with the least risk or investment.

You could do any-but not all-of the following:

1.      Set up appearances
·         Will they be for free (church, school, non-profit)? 
·         Will they provide an opportunity for book sales? 
·         Can you get an increase in social media followers, testimonials for your marketing materials, good experience that builds your resume, and a chance to share a positive and powerful message? 
·         Will you be paid or compensated for your appearance – perhaps at a conference, before a company, or as a consultant?
·         Will you do book signings at bookstores or libraries?
·         Will you join a speakers’ bureau?

2.      Networking
·         Will you attend events, whether free of charge or for a small fee, to have a chance to mingle with people who can help you?
·         Shall you join groups and organizations that help you expand upon or build a network of professional connections \

3.      Education
·         Will you invest in growing as a writer by attending conferences, reading books, or paying for online workshops?
·         Will you also seek to learn more about book marketing, subscribing to publications, attending seminars, purchasing resources online, and hiring a consultant?

4.      Social Media
Facebook, Twitter Linked In, You Tube, Instagram, Pinterest. Google+.  For each one, consider your strategy to develop profiles, engage others, increase connections, and build a fan base.  Will you blog regularly?  Do you have a podcast?  How much content can you create, share, and convert into clicks, connections, and sales?  How often can you get others to interview you or talk about you vs. you initiating the content?

5.      Traditional Media
Radio, television, newspapers and magazines.  They can turn your book into a best-seller.  They also can be used to get you attention on social media, such as when you share your TV appearance clip on social media, on Facebook or Twitter.  Create your press kit, get media coaching, and reach out to targeted local, genre-specific, or national – even international media, seeking reviews, feature stories, news stories, panel discussions, interviews, byline articles, book excerpts, or any type of exposure.

6.      Advertising
Will you advertise – and if so, where – online, print, or broadcast?

7.      Marketing
From holding contests to doing mass giveaways, you can market your book to others. Newsletters, webinars, skyping with book clubs, and joining forces with other authors could give you a boost. Put up a sign outside your house to promote your book.  Hand out fliers by a mall parking lot.  Cross promote someone else’s book, product or service in exchange of them promoting you.

8.      Book Reviews
Goodreads, Net Galley, Amazon reviewers, and so many, websites offer opportunities for book reviews.  Will you make your digital galley or printed book available, in a timely fashion, for review?

9.      Digital Media
This is a blend of social and traditional.  For instance, CNN.com would be digital media.  So would HuffPost, Salon, and TheHill. Get people to cover you online.  Be interviewed by bloggers, podcasters and the websites of major media. Have video interviews with online TV outlets such as Cheddar TV.  Post press releases on news wire services like PR Newswire or free wire services. 

10.  Begging
Hit up your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, temple worshippers, bingo players, and anyone you have ever come into contact with.  Ask them to buy your book, post reviews, follow you on social media and to pull favors to put you in front of anyone they know of who has some juice.

So what’s it gonna be?
·         Feel overwhelmed and do nothing?
·         Try to do everything but not excel at anything?
·         Focus on the short-term and long-term in a balanced manner?
·         Hire others to help in areas you suck in?

Today’s author-turned-marketer can accomplish a lot – and will need to in order to compete with the 3,500 new books flooding the marketplace daily.  

Take a smart, balanced approach and utilize others to share in the plan.  Good luck!


READ THESE!!
The All-New 2018 Toolkit to Promote a Book -- 7th annual edition

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Here are best author-publisher-publishing pro interviews of 2017

Why is what you know about book marketing all wrong!

Should authors go big – or for a sure thing?

16 ways to increase book sales

Study this exclusive author media training video from T J Walker

What does it really take to land on a best-seller list?

Can you sell 10 copies of your book every day?

How do authors get on TV?
  

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs