tagged with: authors

That’s the mantra that’s been on the lips of folks here in Broward County, South Florida since the summer began. And with good reason. If you are looking for ways to occupy your kids while they are on vacation, your local library -whatever part of the country you live in – is one of the best places you can turn to. Not only do the kids have access to books, videos and storytelling sessions, but they can also use the computers equipped with free wi-fi.

And for adults, the library is not just a place to read or check out books, but a place where you can attend workshops on a variety of topics, including health, wellness and business. Some of the libraries offer videoconferencing equipment, large format printers and wireless printing. But that’s not all. At the Jan Moran Collier City Learning Library in Pompano Beach, you can take part in music production. This facility offers all the instruments you need along with a music mentoring program.

This past weekend I attended the South Florida Book Festival at the African-American Research and Library Center in Fort Lauderdale. It was a packed event with lots of authors and presenters. Apparently, tables were allotted on a first- come, first-serve basis, so I lucked out. Still, I had a wonderful time, chatting with some of the authors and exchanging cards. And I had the special thrill of seeing my book, Coming Out of Egypt prominently displayed alongside the other new books.

As a child growing up, I loved the library. It was the place where I met old friends and made new ones; where I explored distant places, flew over raging seas and climbed perilous mountains. It was the place where I lost myself and found myself. Today, as an adult and an author, I value the library even more. I hope that all of you reading this already love your library and will take advantage of the many resources it offers.

Some time ago, I wrote this post about the many ways authors can benefit from their local library. Most of that information is still relevant. For instance, I mentioned that it is difficult, but not impossible, for indie authors to get their books in the library. From recent discussions posted in some Goodreads groups, some authors still lament this fact, while others report having had their books placed in the library system with not much trouble.

With all of that information at the back of my mind, I decided to approach the African American Research Library in Fort Lauderdale where I’d done a book signing for Coming Out of Egypt. I spoke with the very pleasant lady in charge of acquisitions, and she requested a copy of my book so she could evaluate it. After several phone conversations, she got back to me with the good news: my book was deemed acceptable, and she would recommend it be placed in the collections. This was another process and required some more waiting.

Finally, a few weeks ago, I was notified that Coming Out of Egypt is now in the collections at the library and may be placed in other branches in Broward County as well. I am thrilled, to say the least. My goal is to have all three books in the series on all the shelves in the county. You can see the other books here. If you live in the Fort Lauderdale area, will you do me the favor of visiting the African American Research Library and Cultural Center on Sistrunk Blvd., and checking out my book? If it’s not available, please ask the librarian to put it on hold. Thank you so much!

If you haven’t done so yet, please sign up for my mailing list where you will receive updates on my books, giveaways and other author events.

Today is the grand SIAFBB happening we’ve been talking about all week. What is it? It’s the Support Indie Authors Free & Bargain Book event. This is an event in which SIA members offer temporary discounts or freebie promos, and combine our collective marketing resources to showcase our works to a larger readership.

I will be promoting Women For All Seasons, my Christian non-fiction book based on women of the Bible. To know more about it you can go here. I will also be talking about my new Egypt series, Book 1, Coming Out of Egypt and Book 2 In The Wilderness, which is now on preorder.

This is your chance to get Women For All Seasons FREE and Coming Out of Egypt for only 99c. But just for today, so don’t miss this opportunity. And while you are there, please opt-in to my subscribe box so you can get updates on my books, author events and giveaways. So please pass the word on to your friends. The event starts at 8.00 a.m and goes on all day. I will be on at 3.00 p.m. Hope to see you there.

As I continue to research agents to query for Coming Out Of Egypt, I sometimes stop to read that agent’s blog to see what he/she might be looking for or what his/her pet peeve might be. It never ceases to amaze me that most of the agents make the same comments about why they reject someone’s query.

Some of the comments I see are:

1. Query addressed to the wrong agent. Now you might think that the agent could pass it on to the right person, but if they are very busy and harried they may not be able to do this. Also, it shows that the author did not take the time to research the agency properly to see who accepts what.

2. Misspelling the agent’s name. This is a no-no! How would you like it if someone misspelled your name, or called you by the wrong name. The agent probably thinks, if she misspelled my name she may misspell other things too.

3. Not following the guidelines. If they ask for a one-page synopsis, then please don’t send two pages, thinking more is better. If they only accept 75, 000 word manuscripts, don’t send them 80, 000. If they ask for the first three chapters, don’t leave them out. These may seem like nitpicking, but they are not, when you consider that agents receive hundreds of submissions a day. As great as your query may be, they won’t have the time to call you up and ask you for the missing pages.

4. Poorly-written queries. This may not be your fault. You may simply not know the first thing about crafting a query. Then learn. Attend writer’s conferences; take a course; join a critique group; read the agents’ blogs. Many of them mention that writers confuse the query with the synopsis. Consider your query your elevator pitch, what your book is about. This should not be more than three or four lines, according to one agent whose webinar I attended and who later requested my partial. Your synopsis is where you get to reveal the entire plot to the agent. When I say the entire plot, I mean the main plot, including how the story ends, not every little twist and turn. Then make sure you proofread your script, or better yet have another pair of eyes look at it for typos or grammatical errors.

Poorly-written opening page.
One agent puts it this way. “Please, for the love of books, do not use a mirror in the opening pages to have your character describe what they look like.” Try to hook your reader/agent from the opening sentence. Another turn off for agents is beginning by describing scenery or the person waking up or starting with backstory.

Leaving out your contact information. This could be an oversight, but it can cost you dearly if your query showed promise and the agent wants to contact you. If you submit by email, make sure you use your primary email so the agent can reach you. If you sent it by snail mail, be sure to include your SASE.

Before you submit your query to an agent/publisher, you should first see yourself as a salesperson taking a sample of your product to a manager or purchaser. You should 1) Know that the company sells the kind of product you are marketing. 2) Make sure your sample is the best it can be. No smudges, parts missing, or not working right. 3) Make sure you explain as succinctly as possible what your product can do for that company. If you bear these points in mind when preparing your query, you should have a winner.

Every now and again I like to draw from the pool of expert writers and entrepreneurs on the net. This article is courtesy of Filbert Publishing. Make your writing sparkle, write killer queries, get published. Subscribe to Writing Etc., the free e-mag for freelancers and receive the e-book “Power Queries.” http://filbertpublishing.com



Without a doubt, your headline is the most important part of your sales message. Many copywriters spend hours… days… weeks writing headline after headline, trying to come up with the one magic gem that’ll boost response to incredible levels.

Entire libraries can be filled with tips, tips, and techniques that’ll help you write stronger headlines. However I can provide you a brief overview of this complex subject.

As you begin writing, frame your mind around “benefits.” Benefits should be first and foremost in your mind whenever you write any sales message. (more…)

I received a very distressing e-mail from one of my writer friends and a member of my critique group the other day. She has written a series of three books so far and is working on the fourth, but she doesn’t seem to have much enthusiasm for it. My friend, Yvonne Anderson, is an excellent writer and she has helped me a lot in my development as a writer, so when I read that message, I felt an ache inside. For her, for myself and for all the authors having to deal with rejections and little or no advance.

Yvonne published the first two of her Gateway to Gannah series with a traditional publisher, who doesn’t pay any advance and does not assist with publicity. Therefore, she is left to handle all the marketing herself and as a relatively new author, book sales are slow. Not an encouraging picture, is it? In today’s publishing world where closures and mergers are the order of the day, and agents only seem to accept queries by referral only, new authors are having a hard time cracking the proverbial glass ceiling.

However, every now and again I come across a blog post that gives me a bit of hope. Julie Isaac, author and book coach, whom I follow on Twitter, wrote about Dr. Richard Carlson, now famous author of Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff. One evening, Dr. Carlson was discussing with his wife that he was thinking of quitting writing because he had received such a small advance on his book, You Can Be Happy, No Matter What, when the phone rang. It was Oprah’s producer calling to say that she was just in their library looking for a book on stress management when the book fell off the shelf and hit her in the head. (If I wrote that in one of my novels you would say it was contrived, wouldn’t you?)

But anyway, the lady wanted to know if Dr. Carlson could fly out the next day to be on the Oprah show. And the rest, as they say, is history. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff has sold over 25 million copies. What are the chances of your book falling off a shelf and hitting Oprah’s producer in the head? The same as lightning striking on a clear, sunny day. But if you don’t give into discouragement, doubt and fear and keep on writing, you can eventually succeed in the writing business. Don’t give up!

You can view Yvonne’s blog (and buy one of her books!) here: http://yswords.com.

This week I am pleased to present an interview with Bruno McGrath, author of Genetically Modified Foods vs. Sustainability. This ebook points out the surrounding issues of genetically modified fruit and vegetables that consumers are unaware of. If you are concerned about what you put into your body (and you should be!) then you must get this book. Now available on Amazon kindle.

If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?
Technically you can only go forward, but I would like to go back.

If you could invite any 3 people to dinner who would you choose?
Valentino Rossi, John McGuinness, Michael Palin.

If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you?
Steel & flint, Lifestraw, Knife.

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose?
Keith Floyd

What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
Too many things to choose from and my mind changes weekly.

Night owl, or early bird?
Night owl.

One food you would never eat?
Balut eggs.

Skittles or M&Ms?
Neither, Nuts & Seeds instead.

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
It’s something I think everyone should know a little about, as it effects everyone.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
A water sustainability book.

What inspired you to want to become a writer?
I was guided into it without realizing.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Receiving some fantastic reviews from a broad spectrum of people.

If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world.. which would it be?

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Just do it!

When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?
Fighter Pilot

Hidden talent?
Green fingered

Favorite Food?
Lamb Biryani

Favorite Candy?

What movie and/or book are you looking forward to this year?
John McGuinness biography.

What was your favorite children’s book?
Anything by Roald Dahl & The Argos Catalogue.

Chef, it’s what friends have referred to me as since I was 17.

How do you react to a bad review?
Quite well I think, if it is constructive, otherwise not very well.

If you were a bird, which one would you be?
Peregrine Falcon

What do you do in your free time?
Motorcycle riding

What’s your favorite season/weather?
Autumn, cold and sunny

Who or what inspired you to become an author?
My girlfriend tricked me into it

How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
With a few drinks

What is your guilty pleasure?

What TV show/movie/book do you watch/read that you’d be embarrassed to admit?
Come Dine With Me. (TV Show)

Finish the sentence- one book I wish I had written is….
The Da Vinci Code

Favorite places to travel?
Tanga (East Africa), Berlin (Germany)

Favorite music?
Changes regularly.

In your wildest dreams, which author would you love to co-author a book with?
Would love to do a world food tour with Michael Palin and turn it into a book.

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We live in an age where new words keep popping up faster than microwave popped corn. A lot of this has to do with the internet. Words such as blog, webinar, branding, social media were either not known, little used or meant something entirely different before the turn of the century. Now I’ve come across another one: blovel. This means a blog that has been turned into a novel or vice versa, I’m not sure which. However, some people think that writing a blovel can help an author build a platform, leading to a book deal with a major publisher. After all, that’s the reason many of us write, isn’t it?

One advocate of book blogging says it’s very easy to turn your blog into a book. Simply write a short blog post every day starting from the beginning of your book and at the end of a year you should have a book, er, blook. I’m sure you can figure what that is. While she admits that blogging your book lends itself best to non-fiction, she thinks it is also possible to turn out a good blovel. She advises that you
a) plan your story arc well,
b) divide your chapter into mini-scenes,
c)decide how you will weave your posts into a manuscript that flows.

These all sound plausible, however Jane Friedman, professor, media professional and former publisher of Writer’s Digest pleads, “Please don’t blog your book.” While Jane agrees that some blogs may make for excellent books, these are the ones that fall in the information category or are memoirs, like Julia and Julia. Jane’s reasons for not blogging your book are also straightforward and plausible. They are:
a) Blog writing is not like book writing. Think SEO, keyword etc.
b) Blogs can make for very bad books – unless it’s an e-book or an illustrated book.
c)If a book sounds like a series of blog posts, she considers it a failure.

In some of the forums I visited on the subject, one author brought up the very important of original work. Publishers tend to shy away from anything that’s considered already published, and if it appeared on your blog then it qualifies as published work. Another person said he has been blogging scenes from his book, but he has yet to acquire a readership.

I’ll continue this discussion in another post. Meanwhile, drop me a line and let me know if you think blogging your book is a good idea, or if you have done it what kind of results have you had.

My post in the A – Z challenge is going to be a short one on querying. If you are an author or freelance writer, you have no doubt researched the art of writing the query letter, or may have attended workshops on the subject. Therefore, I will not bore you with writing what you already know. The query letter is one of the ways you get an agent or publisher to take notice of your work. If you get it right, you could be on to something, get it wrong and your excellent work goes unnoticed.

What if you could find a list of suitable agents, get some help with your query letters and keep track of where you sent them? I just signed up for Querytracker, a site which does all that and more. When you join Querytracker you become part of a community of writers who share the same goals and who can help you get your foot in the (agent’s) door. Sounds worthwhile? Check out Querytracker.net, or if you are already a member, drop me a line and let me know what your experience is like.

Establishing yourself as an author or freelance writer is not a task for the faint-hearted. I am realizing this everyday, but I’m also realizing that there are thousands of writers who succeeded because of their perseverance. Would you believe that authors like Stephen King, Carrie, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank, Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar and Agatha Christie, Murder on The Orient Express, to name just a few, all experienced the pain of rejection. When I think of what these famous people have contributed to the world of literature, I wonder where we would be if they had given up. (more…)

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