Thursday, February 25, 2010

Vincent Zandri stops by... (and a giveaway)

Moonlight FallsReaders, please join me welcoming Vincent Zandri, author of Moonlight Falls who's guest blogging here today!

Moonlight Falls is the Albany, New York-based paranoid tale (in the Hitchcock tradition) of former APD Detective turned Private Investigator/Massage Therapist, Richard “Dick” Moonlight, who believes he might be responsible for the brutal slaying by knife of his illicit lover, the beautiful Scarlet Montana. The situation is made all the worse since Scarlet is the wife of Moonlight’s boss, Chief of Detectives Jake Montana.

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Biting the Nail: The Discipline of Writing
By Vincent Zandri

“Where do you get your discipline?”

That’s the question I’m asked most frequently about my solitary writing life. Most people who work according the programmed schedule of job and career find it inconceivable that a person can actually roll out of bed, face a blank page, and begin to make words. Yet, as writers, that’s what we do. We create and in order to create we have to have discipline. Discipline to work alone, according to our own rules, according to our own high standards, according to our own priorities and curiosities.

Acquiring discipline isn’t so hard when you are passionate about your work—when you have a desire not only to write well, but to do it better than anyone has done it before. At the same time you have to develop a skin of armor in order to feed the obsession. The first most important lesson of the disciplined writing life is learning that you’re not always going to be successful. Most of the time you will fail and must face the resulting rejection head on. That’s the most difficult thing about discipline: carrying on with your work unabated, even in the face of rejection.

So where does my discipline come from?

As clich├ęd as it sounds, I can only tell you that it comes from deep inside. It’s not something I have to work up, so much as it’s something I have to feed on a daily basis. Discipline means waking up early every day, day in and day out, and writing. It’s writing everyday in isolation no matter what’s happening in my life. Be it sick kids, angry spouses, insolvent bank accounts, a broken toilet, a terrorist attack… I write no matter what. Hemingway called this sometimes impossible but necessary process, “biting the nail.” And anyone who has the discipline to write every day no matter what, understands what biting the nail is all about. Writing, like the discipline it requires, can be an awfully painful process.

Back in 1992, I wrote in my published essay, A Literary Life, “In the morning, weariness begins with darkness. It surrounds me inside my kitchen like a weighted shroud, cumbersome and black. It continues as my fingertips search and locate a light switch next to the telephone, above my son’s hi-chair. White light stings my eyes when I flip it up. There is a clock above the sink…I interpret a big hand and little hand that have not yet made 6:00AM.”

Those were the days when I wrote in the mornings, worked a fulltime job and received rejections everyday. But still, I crawled out of bed and wrote. I guess all these years later, I can truthfully say, discipline is what I had in the place of sleep, in the place of comfort, in the place of security and success. Discipline was and remains the bedfellow I seek when I am at my most lonely.

Eventually the discipline would reap its rewards.

In the 12 years since I’ve earned my MFA from Vermont College, I’ve published three novels, with one on the way this winter. I’ve been translated into numerous languages. I’ve published almost two dozen short stories, countless articles, essays and blogs. I’ve traveled “on assignment” to China, Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Spain, Africa and more. Along the way I’ve met wonderful people, seen wonderful things, witnessed atrocities, unspeakable disease, hunger and corruption. I’ve written about much of it. Some of it, I’ve simply stored away in my brain for some future story or novel down the road.

For all its rewards, discipline demands stiff payment.

Because of my priorities, I’ve failed at two marriages and many more relationships. I’ve lost friends and lost the faith and trust of family members who have come to think of me as unreliable or flaky at best. Because after all, I tend to use a holiday like Christmas as a time to work, and when family events like birthdays come up, I might be traveling or locked up in my studio with my significant other…Well, you know her name. It starts with a D.

I have managed however, to find a way to balance time with my kids. Not that it’s always been easy. Children are a distraction, no bones about it. But they are also fuel for your discipline. I’m not entirely certain that I could have achieved any kind of success without them. Children open up emotional vaults that would otherwise remain sealed shut. You need to expose the contents of these vaults in your prose.

My writing simply wouldn’t be the same without kids. Now that they’re almost grown up, I still keep them as close as possible without smothering them. When it comes to my children, my philosophy has always been, hug them, tell them you love them, and make them laugh once a day. You’d be surprised how well this works. Also, don’t be afraid to tell them the truth. They know when you’re lying. If you can’t spend time with them because you have to feed the discipline, be honest about it. They will appreciate you for it and come to respect you.

Case and point: it’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon and I’m writing this article. My children are home, just outside the closed door of my studio, where I can hear them engaged in some sort of friendly argument. I’m not doing anything with them per se. But I’m here with them, for them.

This month alone I will write and published 36 short architecture and construction articles, three major blogs, present a revised version of The Concrete Pearl (my fifth novel) to my agent, write one or two features, engage in pre-publicity for Moonlight Falls, and maybe, if there’s time, pen a new piece for my personal blog. In between all this, I’ll juggle time with the kids, time for exercise, time to tip some beers with friends, time for a few road trips, time to be by myself and read. Have I mentioned the discipline required to read books?

One word of warning, the discipline, no matter how beautiful a bedfellow, does not always respond lovingly. Even after you’ve scored a major book contract or two. During my second marriage, I suffered through a writer’s block that lasted five long years, a period during which I published not a single word. The block just happened to coincide with my oldest son’s nervous breakdown and the onset of severe depression (see “Breakdown,” http://www.blnz.com/news/2008/11/12/Breakdown_8563.html). At that time, as I came close to going broke (after receiving a mid-six figure advance for As Catch Can), I never once stopped working, never once veered from the discipline of waking up every morning and trying to write. “Trying” being the key word here.

Looking back on those difficult years, I realize I wasn’t writing so much as I was just typing, but the process helped me cope with some very difficult and serious issues in my life. If nothing else, the discipline to write can be a mighty powerful therapy.

Eventually the damn breaks, as it did in my case, and I made a return to good writing and publishing. I’m not making millions by any means, but I make a decent living as a freelance journalist and novelist, and that’s all anyone can honestly ask for.

The late great Norman Mailer also understood about the financial ups and downs of being a fulltime writer. But more importantly, he understood about the discipline of biting the nail. He wrote 2,500 new words a day right up until the end when his kidneys failed him. It wasn’t the disciple or the talent or the mind that gave out, it was the 84 year old body. I’m told he died with a smile on his face. Not the kind of smile that accompanies peace of mind, sedated painlessness, or “going to the bright light.” But the kind of smile that only a disciplined writer can wear; the sly grin that means you’re about to embark on a brand new adventure, and that you can’t wait to write about it.

*******************

Moonlight Falls author Vincent Zandri is an award-winning novelist, essayist and freelance photojournalist. His novel As Catch Can (Delacorte) was touted in two pre-publication articles by Publishers Weekly and was called "Brilliant" upon its publication by The New York Post. The Boston Herald attributed it as “The most arresting first crime novel to break into print this season.” Other novels include Godchild (Bantam/Dell) and Permanence (NPI). Translated into several languages including Japanese and the Dutch, Zandri’s novels have also been sought out by numerous major movie producers, including Heyday Productions and DreamWorks. Presently he is the author of the blogs, Dangerous Dispatches and Embedded in Africa for Russia Today TV (RT). He also writes for other global publications, including Culture 11, Globalia and Globalspec. Zandri’s nonfiction has appeared in New York Newsday, Hudson Valley Magazine, Game and Fish Magazine and others, while his essays and short fiction have been featured in many journals including Fugue, Maryland Review and Orange Coast Magazine. He holds an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College and is a 2010 International Thriller Writer’s Awards panel judge. Zandri currently divides his time between New York and Europe. He is the drummer for the Albany-based punk band to Blisterz.

www.vincentzandri.com
http://vincentzandri.blogspot.com/
http://twitter.com/VincentZandri
http://www.facebook.com/vincent.zandri?ref=profile
http://www.myspace.com/vincentzandri
An advice we could all use for sure! Thanks for stopping by, Vincent. It was great hosting you.

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GIVEAWAY
(* New Changes regarding Winner Notification etc. Details at the end of this blog post.

Prize : A copy of this book will go to one lucky reader.

To Enter : Leave a thoughtful comment or question for the author.

For Extra Entries: (please leave a NEW comment for each extra entry you do)
Deadline:   Midnight CST of March 25, 2010.

Eligibility:  US only.


*** I'll no longer email winners to get their address. Instead, winners will be announced in a blog post. It's up to the participants to check back to see if they've won. Read more details HERE.
 
Note - This book was received for review/feature consideration.
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Feature - Wendy Corsi Staub's Live to Tell (& a giveaway)

Photobucket Pictures, Images and PhotosAuthor Wendy Corsi Staub is one busy gal! Last year, every single time I emailed her, she was either on her way to some event, or coming back from one. I honestly don't know how she can write so prolifically as she does! Even this guest post today (see below) was written while on a flight back to JFK from a Caribbean vacation. Now that's dedication! And that's one of the reasons why she's so wide read as she is.

If you're new to this author, then I must tell you that Wendy Corsi Staub is a New York Times bestseller with the suspense novels she writes under her own name, and a USA Today bestseller with women's fiction she writes under her pseudonym Wendy Markham. Whether killing off suspects or romancing a bad boy, Wendy is equally adept at making the readers care and become so engrossed in her plots as to make them feel they're actually there, experiencing it all.

Live to Tell2010 is shaping up to be an exciting year for her, with the launch of a brand new thriller trilogy from Harper's AVON BOOKS imprint. The first title, Live to Tell, is a March release (it released on Feb 23rd, according to Amazon- so buy your copy today!), to be followed later in the year by SCARED TO DEATH and, in 2011, HELL TO PAY.

This the award-winning author of more than seventy novels lives in the New York City suburbs with her husband of seventeen years and their two children.

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February 20, 2010

I’m writing this on board a Cayman Airways flight home to JFK, having just spent a  largely tech-free week on—well, not a desert island, and not a deserted island, but an island just the same—inherently isolated, as islands tend to be, and filled with decadent distractions that don’t involve chargers or remotes. 

Thanks to my Caribbean exile, I honestly have no idea whether Brad and Angelina have split, as was the rumor before I flew away, though I suspect it won’t be long after landing before I find out. 

Funny, in this Facebook/Twitter-frenzied era, how easy it is to get swept, even unwillingly, into the media-trumpeted details of total strangers’ lives—and how blessedly easy it is to forget about them when you’re unplugged. Brangelina, Michael Jackson’s doctor, John Mayer, Snooki and the Situation…

Who cares? Not me. Not when I’m with my family, and there’s a sunlit turquoise sea at my doorstep and a good book in my beach bag.

But one afternoon while wandering through the resort lobby, I heard that a plane had hit a building back in America. Being from New York, I experienced a fleeting, familiar wave of worry and made it my business to swiftly uncover the who-what-when-where-why.

While getting the update, I was also treated to a laughably dire weather forecast from back home—impending doom; I mean, more snow—in FEBRUARY, in the northeast, no less. Imagine.  And, just before I unplugged, I was privy to even more urgent breaking news: Tiger Woods was going to be speaking publically within the next 24 hours, expected to apologize for having sex with a women who weren’t his wife.

Because I also am not his wife, I really don’t think he owes me an apology. In fact, I pretty much don’t care what Tiger Woods does, or with whom.

I just hope I’ll keep that perspective in mind once I get back to the “real world,” where I’ll once again be bombarded by television and tabloid and radio and internet news every waking hour—and the next thing I know, there will be breaking news crawls running across my dreams. 

~ Wendy Corsi Staub

Read my blog at www.wendycorsistaubcommunity.com 
Visit  www.wendycorsistaub.com
Follow me on twitter or facebook
I know - just turn off the TV and the computer for a couple of days and it's like time slows down immeasurably! I love it... and hate it, at the same time. Luckily, books also have the magic of making time fly by, like Wendy's latest Live to Tell. Here's the snynopsis :

Staub (Dead Before Dark) follows an innocuous stuffed animal into a widening spiral of intrigue in this absorbing series launch. Newly single mom Lauren Walsh asks her ex, Nick, to look for their daughter's toy rabbit in the lost and found at Grand Central Station. In the heart of Manhattan, Congressman Garvey Quinn is riding a popularity wave that could carry him to the White House-but only if he can keep a certain dark secret from bubbling into public view. And in a small Connecticut town, Elsa and Brett Cavalon are still grieving 14 years after their son was kidnapped from their backyard. The connections among these troubled families are slow to reveal themselves, but once Staub's brilliant characterizations and top-notch narrative skills grab hold, they don't let go.

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GIVEAWAY
(*New Giveaway and Prize Fuilfilment Rules. Please Read.

Prize : A copy of this book will go to one lucky reader.

To Enter : Leave a thoughtful comment or question for the author.

For Extra Entries: (please leave a NEW comment for each extra entry you do)
Deadline:   Midnight CST of March 23, 2010.

Eligibility:  US only.

Note - This book was received for review/feature consideration.
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Friday, February 19, 2010

Author Guest Post - Maria Andrade

Heart Magic : Keeping Love Alive & WellReaders, please join me welcoming Maria Andrade, author of Heart Magic: Keeping Love Alive and Well who's guest blogging here today! This book describes the 8 important principles for a healthy partnership along with "Do's and Don'ts" for keeping love strong.
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The "Heart Magic Skills" To A Lasting Love
By Maria Andrade

There are three basic things we are not taught to do well in life. These three basic things are:

1. How to get along with the person we hope to live with the rest of our lives.

2. How to raise healthy, creative, children who have self-respect and respect others.

3. How to deal with stress and anger.

We know this is true because of the unfortunate divorce rate (one out of two marriages fail in America), the river of children abused in our society and the high degree of addictions and crime, which reflects the stress and rage in our society. Yet, our hunger for information is reflected in the billion dollar industries behind, self-help books and magazines, improvement classes, seminars, media programs and Internet blogs. These all reflects our basic desire to grow and improve the quality of our lives.

To succeed in the three areas previously mentioned, having a harmonious relationship, healthy children, a peaceful mind, is not only a worthy goal but is in fact, the only way to have the civility which reflects a “civilization”.  Such individuals would be considered to have reached a high social development.  For each individual and family is an important cell in the body of society, a body which expands as we look at the collective world. But how can we expect nations who are different in religions, races and cultures to get along if two people who love each other cannot get along under their own roof?

These were my thoughts when I began my work in the field of Marriage, Family, Child Counseling,  25 years ago. When I started in private practice, I specialized in the work with children but it was evident that the presenting problem was the family with its environment where wellness or illness existed. Therefore, more and more I turned my attention to the family system and very quickly saw how much help was needed in couple or parenting skills regarding communication and conflict resolution. This is why I wrote, Heart Magic, Keeping Love Alive and Well, in order to help individuals and couples achieve success in the greatest of all arts – the art of relating. 

What have I found to be a barrier to success in our society? It is a long held fallacy that to “live happily ever after” all we need is love. But don’t most people who marry and later get divorced love each other when they walked down the aisle? Love needs our help!  We need to accept the fact that preparation and training, is necessary before we live together as a couple – before we bring children into the world.

Just as we get training to drive a car, learn a trade, or prepare for any important endeavor in our lives, we must learn what are healthy, relationship, habits to succeed as partners. More than two decades of research in the field of relationship studies has shown me that family members build trust, get along better, and experience a loving, harmonious life by following the “Eight Select Principles” and simple, “Dos and Don’t of Relating” found in my book, Heart Magic, Keeping Love Alive & Well. 

For example, how many of us know this underlying fact in relating, that everyone has a piece of the truth and each side has a need that must be acknowledged? When there is a conflict between two people, if they do not understand this fact, they may not resolve their differences in a fair and respectful manner. Therefore, acknowledging each person’s truth, exploring each side’s need then finding a solution, which is fair to both sides, builds a truly intimate relationship. The home becomes a place where there is harmony because conflicts are resolved, trust is built and love endures. What better inheritance can parents give children? 

If we truly want a peaceful world, it begins with the individual and the family unit is the cell of the collective world family. True peacemakers live that ideal daily in their homes. 

The good news is that everyone can learn to improve their relationship skills no matter what age or stage of partnership they are in - if they are motivated to do so! It takes devotion to your dream and a sincere desire to be happy. But it becomes a reality by learning a few simple habits of relating and applying them under your own roof. We see this lived out in the life of partners who are happy together, who may undergo many challenges but who have learned to practice loving habits that make any challenge easier to face. This is how the vision of love is truly made a reality!

Maria J. Andrade, M.S. M.F.T., is a psycho spiritual therapist and poet. She was born in Ecuador, South America and raised in New York and California. In 1989 she was initiated in Andean Shamanism by Amazonian and Inca medicine healers of Peru. She uses poetry, stories and ceremony in her work. Her poetry and articles on social justice has appeared in the nationally awarded winning, bilingual newspaper, “La Oferta Review” and “Vistazo” San Jose, California as well as in “La Opinion” Newspaper, Los Angeles.

Maria is a social and human rights activists who helped establish organizations such as Habitat for Humanity in Pomona, CA and FACTS (Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes Law) Los Angeles Chapter. She worked with Peace and Justice, a political activists group based in La Verne, CA and for 25 years served on the Board of the Carl Jung Society of Claremont as Program Coordinator gathering speakers and programs which bring transformative visions for the new millennium. She is founder of the “Heart Magic” workshops based on her book Heart Magic, Keeping Love Alive & Well. This book focuses on important fundamental principles and communication techniques for sustaining a loving and lasting partnership.

She lives in California and has a private counseling practice with her husband Sy Cohn. You can visit her website at www.magicunion.com.

Giveaway: For each book purchased, the reader receives a free private, online consultation with Relationship Expert, Maria Andrade in English or Spanish? 
(Anonymity is good for those who are to shy or financially challenged to go to a Marriage, Family Therapist.)

Sounds pretty interesting. Readers, as always, your thoughts and comments are most welcome.
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Author Guest Post - Carla Buckley

The Things That Keep Us Here

Readers, please join me welcoming Carla Buckley, author of The Things That Keep Us Here who's guest blogging here today!


About the book - Ann Brooks never thought she’d have to answer that question. Then she found her limits tested by a crisis no one could prevent. Now, as her neighborhood descends into panic, she must make tough choices to protect everyone she loves from a threat she cannot even see. In this chillingly urgent novel, Carla Buckley confronts us with the terrifying decisions we are forced to make when ordinary life changes overnight.

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A Debut Author’s Guide to Agents

I began writing fifteen years ago, and found an agent ten years ago. My debut novel is about to be released, and I’ve been reflecting on a few things I’ve learned over the years regarding authors and agents.

In order to be published, you have to have an agent.

False, sort of. It depends on your hopes and dreams. If you’re writing category romance or looking at e-publishers, you don’t necessarily need to be agented. But if you want to be published by one of a major New York firms, you’ll need an agent to cut through the slush piles dumped in their inboxes every day. Editors will read manuscripts submitted to them by agents because they’ll know that manuscript has a better chance of being coherent, proofed, and possibly even interesting. As publishing houses continue to merge and become more streamlined, and editors grow crazy busy, this is becoming even truer. Of course, there are exceptions. Sometimes a writer will get the magic ticket to NYC without an agent, but then there’s the back-end of the situation. An agent not only helps sell your manuscript, he or she represents you during the publishing process. They are your best business ally, and believe me, you’ll want their expertise. Want to be re-released in paperback, hate your cover, write something that’s different from what you’re currently writing, wonder where that royalty payment is? That’s when an agent steps in to negotiate on your behalf. The publishing world is complicated, with lots of loopholes and pitfalls. You as the author can’t possibly be expected to navigate them successfully. It’s hard enough just writing a book.

Any time your agent calls, it’s with news.


True. The first time an agent phones you, you can count on it being with an offer for representation. The second time he or she phones (also known as The Call), will be with an offer from a publisher. Things usually disintegrate after that point. Depending upon how hands-on your agent is, future phone calls will be about your latest manuscript, foreign rights deals, film sales, or gossip about what so-and-so wore at the awards banquet.

The first few times your agent calls, it will be when you least expect it.

Also true. Once you begin sending around your manuscript to agents, you run various scenarios in your head. The agent of your dreams will call and you, calm and poised, will answer the phone, “Hello?” You may or may not use a bored intonation; you may adopt an English accent. Every time the phone rings, you’ll pause and collect yourself, just in case it’s An Agent. As time goes on, however, and life hurtles along its unpredictable path, you’ll stop rushing to the phone. You’ll stop preparing yourself. And that’s when he or she will call. At least one child will be screaming for a cookie; the doorbell will be chiming, and something will be burning in the oven. Amid this cacophony, you’ll scoop up the phone, expecting it to be another telemarketer, and you’ll bark, “Yes?” 

I promise. It won’t be your best moment.

If you’re serious about your craft, you’ll want to be represented by an agent in New York City.

False. Really false. Maybe once, long before either of us were born, before planes flew and the phone was invented, having a NYC agent was essential. But that is no longer the case. You want an agent who knows the people in New York, and that’s easily managed by phone calls, visits to the City, meetings at writers conferences. What you really want is an agent who loves your manuscript and knows exactly who in New York will love it, too.

Still, it’s better to go with a major agency than a lone agent.

False. An agency with many agents and different departments to handle foreign sales and so forth, does offer benefits. You’ve got the power and expertise of many behind you, instead of just one person handling everything. But it’s also possible to get lost amid the noise at a major agency. It depends on whether you want to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish at a big pond. Again, it comes down to the relationship you can build with your agent, and that doesn’t depend on whether he or she eats lunch among a crowd at work, or shares a sandwich with their cat alone at their desk at home.

It is not possible to deluge your agent with too many chocolates.


True! You will find that before you sell to a publisher, your personality with your agent will be muted. You’ll be polite, upbeat, and very low maintenance. Why, you’ll be the ideal client and no trouble at all. This undergoes a seismic shift the moment you sign that contract. All of a sudden, those insecurities you kept carefully hidden from your agent will bubble to the surface. You won’t be able to help yourself. As you hurtle through the process of seeing your book come to print, all sorts of issues you didn’t even realize you needed to worry about, will emerge. You’ll be emailing your agent seventeen times a day. You’ll even be driven to pick up the phone and call, breathless and anxious, needing that explanation or reassurance right away. The only way to ameliorate this bad author behavior is to regularly send your agent chocolate (or bottles of wine, gift certificates to a spa, hand-painted silk ties.) Find your agent’s weak spot and indulge it regularly. Which reminds me: I have a two-pound box of truffles to buy.

Carla Buckley is the debut author of The Things That Keep Us Here (Delacorte Press, 2010.) She lives in Ohio with her husband, children, and two curious dogs. Delacorte will release Buckley’s next novel in 2011. You can visit Carla Buckley’s website at www.CarlaBuckley.com.
Great advice, Carla. I'm sure all those aspiring authors out there will be glad to have those myths cleared up.


Note - This book was received for review/feature consideration. This post is part of a virtual tour organized by Pump Up Your Book Promotion.
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Author Guest Post - Elisa Lorello


Readers, please join me welcoming Elisa Lorello, author of Ordinary World, who's guest blogging here today!
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E-books and print books can co-exist

Perhaps it was because I was raised to believe that people of different backgrounds can live together harmoniously. Perhaps it’s because I’m an eternal optimist. Perhaps it’s because I’m trying to please everyone. Nevertheless, I believe e-books and print books can co-exist.

There’s no doubt that the Amazon Kindle has changed the reading landscape and rattled the publishing industry. Just like what Napster and iTunes did for indie musicians and the music industry at the turn of the century, e-publishing has made it possible for an unknown author like me to be recognized. It’s also true that bookstores, especially the independent stores, are suffering, and that part troubles me. I’m a huge indie bookstore fan. Huge. I’m equally a huge fan of the tactile book. The sturdiness of a hardcover, the flexibility of a paperback, the smell of the printed page…I love it all. I’m also a Kindle best-selling author. So how do I reconcile these two sides of me?

The first step to co-existence is focusing on what unites us rather than divides us: a love of reading. For some, the Kindle and other e-readers have reunited people who had long given up on pleasure reading. For those who were already longtime bookworms, they provided a new way to enjoy their books. One of my friends, a voracious reader since she was a kid, said, “I haven’t stopped buying or loving tactile books just because I have a Kindle. But there are times—like going on vacation, for example—when the Kindle makes reading so much more accessible.”

In music, synthesizers can replicate any instrument so precisely that an average listener probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. But strings, horns, woodwinds, and percussion instruments haven’t become obsolete. Nor have musicians, and there’s nothing better than watching a jazz player or a rock guitarist jammin’ away, sweeping us up in the passion of the music. And yet, it takes an equally talented musician and engineer to master the digital sound. So goes it with books. It’s true that nothing beats the feeling of holding a book in your hand (especially if it’s one you’ve written!)—but when a story has been carefully crafted and refined, it holds up in both print and electronic form.

And what about audiobooks? Don’t they count? Aren’t they just one more way to enjoy reading? I listen to audiobooks in my car as part of my daily commute. Many times I’ll choose a book on audio that I wouldn’t typically choose in print. My selections with an e-reader would follow this same pattern.

In terms of a business model, there’s got to be a way to bring print and e-books together in a way that makes money for everyone. Rather than resist the shift in the publishing paradigm, publishers, booksellers, and authors need to embrace it. One possibility is to allow independent authors to upload their e-book files to an indie store’s website (on consignment, just as a brick-&-mortar arrangement), where customers can purchase and download books directly from that site. I’m sure similar arrangements can be made with traditional publishers as well. Barnes & Noble are selling their e-readers in their stores. (The price wars are an entirely different blog post, but one that also needs to be reconciled.)

And indie authors, this is your time to step up! Digital technology meant that musicians who couldn’t break into the market finally had a chance to reach the masses. A lot of good music rose to the top, but there was a lot of bad stuff out there too. Listeners became quite savvy in terms of weeding out the bad stuff to get to the good stuff. Readers are following this same path. They’re weeding out the bad writing to get to the good. If you want to be one of the good, then you’ve got to hone your craft. Read as much as you can. Get honest, reliable feedback. Get editors and proofreaders. Design a professional-looking cover, or hire one to design it for you. Know your market. Most importantly, tell a good story with compelling characters.

E-books and print books can peacefully co-exist. Like the song says, we just need to give it a chance.

Elisa Lorello currently lives in North Carolina and is the author of two novels. Her latest, Ordinary World is the sequel to Faking It. Ordinary World is available in print at Lulu.com (http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/ordinary-world/6226384?productTrackingContext=center_search_results) and on Amazon Kindle (http://www.amazon.com/Ordinary-World-ebook/dp/B002VECPYM/ref=pd_rhf_p_t_2) or Smashwords (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/9299) . For more information, please visit Elisa’s blog “I’ll Have What She’s Having”, her website elisalorello.com, or follow her on Twitter @elisalorello.
Thanks for that insightful post, Elisa.What you've said gets truer by the day. Readers, your thoughts and comments are most welcome.

Note - This book was received for review/feature consideration. This blog post is part of a virtual book tour by WOW! Women on Writing
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Author Gary Morgenstein stops by...

How to Find a Woman...Or Not (Volume 1)Readers, please join me welcoming Gary Morgenstein, author of How to Find a Woman...Or Not who's guest blogging here today.

Finding true love isn't impossible as long as you view the entire world as one big singles bar. Walking your dog, practicing yoga, riding mass transit, buying a book, even visiting a friend in the hospital can lead to the woman of your dreams. Critically-acclaimed novelist/playwright Gary Morgenstein provides the romantic roadmap!

Using his own battle-scarred experiences as a divorced man along with many years "spinning" as a public relations specialist, Morgenstein takes men (and women eager to go inside the mind of a guy) on a step-by-step comic and erotic guide to love and sex. From making eye contact, dazzling opening lines, online etiquette, younger and older women and how to conduct yourself on a date to what goes into a successful relationship (in and out of the bedroom), How to Find a Woman...Or Not is a riotous, poignant and indispensable blueprint for passion and commitment.

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TRUE LOVE COULD BE ONLY ONE SUPERMARKET VISIT AWAY

Tired of spending Saturday nights alone with your Netflix and take-out Thai food? Afraid to take calls from your mother because she starts every conversation with “I guess I’ll never have grandchildren.”

Sure, finding true love is difficult. That’s why I wrote How to Find a Woman…Or Not. But this isn’t your typical dating book. My thesis is that if you only focus on finding your soul mate in a bar or online or speed dating or any of the conventional ways, you better up that Netflix subscription to three movies at a time.

All the world’s a Singles Bar. Gyms, mass transit, book stores, Laundromats, airport terminals and on and on. If you know where to look and how to look. For today, let’s examine the vast romantic landscapes that are supermarkets.

I’m talking about your traditional grocery stores to upscale venues like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Dean and DeLuca. The first thing a woman will look at – after you – is what’s in your grocery cart.

So if you’re heading to the grocery store with more in mind than that evening’s meal, remember:
  • Don’t load up on beer
  • A woman will then assume you like to drink, have friends who drink and will come over, making a mess and annoying her
  • Avoid Pringle’s chips, onion dip, etcetera, any of the classic guy noshing food
  • Conversely, saying you like Sun Chips for the fiber suggests you’re nutritionally dense
  • Proudly insisting you only eat low-fat Nathan’s franks classifies you as a moron
  • Nothing spicy in case she has stomach issues
  • Hide the toilet paper under the 12-grain bread. She’ll crinkle her cute little nose that they aren’t the soft kind, fearing her butt will bleed from wiping
  • No food which betrays a health problem, like clear broths or Mrs. Potter’s Boiled Gesteybos for Problem Halitosis
And always make sure you have:
  • Cleaning fluids/sprays. Says she won’t have to hold her breath upon entering your bathroom
  • Healthy snacks like low-fat crackers or reduced fat cheese so she won’t worry about gaining weight if she hangs out with you
  • Oatmeal or low-fat shredded wheat cereal, you get the idea -- no Cocoa Puffs!
  • She wants to know breakfast will be nutritious or else won’t stay over and you’ll lose out on morning sex when she’s too sleepy to refuse something kinky
  • Eggs because you might cook her breakfast
  • Soy milk even if it makes you gag
  • Fish since they’re always looking to eat healthy
  • Tortillas for a late night “quesadilla”
The eyes are the window to the soul, but the shopping cart says what life would be like with you as her guy.

Novelist/playwright Gary Morgenstein’s How to Find a Woman…Or Not is a comic how-to guide to love, romance and sex, viewing Planet Earth as one potential singles bar, from gyms, mass transit, grocery stores and doctors’ offices to online dating. Morgenstein is the author of four novels: Loving Rabbi Thalia Kleinman, a romantic triangle about a divorced man who falls for a woman rabbi; Jesse’s Girl, the heart-pounding story of a widowed father’s search for his adopted teenage son; the political thriller Take Me Out to the Ballgame, and the baseball Rocky The Man Who Wanted to Play Center Field for the New York Yankees. His prophetic play Ponzi Man performed to sell-out crowds at a recent New York Fringe Festival. Gary is presently on a virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book. If you would like to find out where he’s touring, click here (http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/2010/01/15/how-to-love-a-woman-or-not-virtual-book-tour-february-2010/).
Finding that other half of you is perhaps the best experience there ever can be. Thanks for these fun yet useful points, Gary!

Note - This book was received for review/feature consideration. This is part of a virtual blog tour by Pump Up Your Book Promotion.
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Friday, February 12, 2010

Review - The Crimson Rooms by Katharine McMahon

The Crimson Rooms
Still haunted by the death of her only brother, James, in the Great War, Evelyn Gifford is completely unprepared when a young nurse and her six-year-old son appear on the Giffords' doorstep one night. The child, the nurse claims, is James', conceived in a battlefield hospital. The grief-stricken Giffords take them both in; but Evelyn, a struggling attorney, must now support her entire family-at a time when work for women lawyers is almost nonexistent.

Suddenly a new case falls in Evelyn's lap: Seemingly hopeless, it's been abandoned by her male coworkers. The accused-a veteran charged with murdering his young wife- is almost certain to die on the gallows. And yet, Evelyn believes he is truly innocent, just as she suspects there may be more to the story of her "nephew" than meets the eye.

My thoughts -The Crimson Rooms is an exciting and thought provoking story of a woman struggling to change both herself and society, and all the while attempt to solve a gruesome murder mystery.

The story begins slowly, still words and muted colors revealing a London home that's still deep in mourning for a beloved son and brother (James) who died heroically in World War I. It's like time has stood still in Clivedon Hall Gardens and none of the spinster and widowed female residents (Evelyn, her mom, her aunt and grandmom, together with 2 aging female servants) know quite how to break out of this self-imposed grief. And then, like a stone tossed carelessly into still waters, Meredith arrives from Canada with Jamie's son, and the resultant ripples are life altering.

It was most intriguing to read Evelyn's struggle to establish herself in the legal profession, which is still very much a male dominion in 1924. While not exactly a suffragist, Evelyn can be considered a trailblazer even though she lacks the self-confidence and the experience needed to establish herself. Her attempts to handle the cases thrust upon her and deal with her busy and successful male partners, while doing her own investigation, reveal how in-depth the rot of male chauvinism runs and how it alternately takes the form of condescension, ridicule and rejection. Struggling every step of the way professionally, Evelyn also has to act as the pseudo-head of their all-female household and yet yield the stage to her elders who cling to the past and refuse to change.

Meredith is an enigma and like Evelyn, readers are unable to figure out her true intentions. Her shrill gaiety, colorful dresses, bold mannerisms and a grasping thirst for life are at violent odds with the grave-like sobriety and mournful pall of Evelyn's home and its residents. She's also a catalyst who, through her very presence, ignites change all around her. This comes on gradually throughout the story and in spurts of violent revelations and incidents that have a powerful impact on the women. To further complicate matters, Evelyn finds herself falling for an unsuitable man, a handsome but engaged attorney who's interested in her cases a bit too much.

McMahon's powerful and poignant words draw the picture of an uncertain world where change is almost overwhelming in its presence and yet whose existence is being denied by people mired in the rut of bygone thinking. The impact of War and its far-reaching consequences, although unseen for the most part, can be felt behind everything and everyone.

The Crimson Rooms is a bittersweet story of love lost and secrets revealed, of crime and passion. It takes readers on a journey that's a bit meandering, but ultimately very rewarding. The intriguing way it ends makes me hope that we'll get more to read about Evelyn's story, see how she makes the most of her new life and career.


The book will be available at the following online retailers: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders and Indie Bound

Disclosure - I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by MotherTalk on behalf of G.P. Putnam's Sons / Riverhead and received a copy of the book to facilitate my candid review. Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate
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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Author Angela Henry talks about Mystery Writing

Schooled In LiesReaders, please join me welcoming Angela Henry, author of Schooled In Lies, who's guest blogging here today.

About the Book - GED instructor Kendra Clayton's high school days were nothing to brag about. So she's not too thrilled when on top of having to take a class to renew her teaching certificate or be fired, she gets roped into serving on her high school's reunion committee. Spending time with her former classmates is even less fun than having a root canal. Then to make matters worse, Kendra and the other committee members start receiving strange messages and having freak accidents. When one of the accidents results in a death, Kendra is convinced it's murder. Unfortunately, neither the reunion committee nor the police take her seriously. To try and prevent another death-and to keep from worrying about all the time her sweetie, Carl, has been spending with his scheming ex-wife-Kendra digs into the lives of her fellow committee members and uncovers enough secrets, lies, and betrayal to make her head spin. When a second murder occurs, Kendra realizes she needs to watch her back in her search for the truth before a killer turns her into another buried secret.
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The Mystery Writer’s Challenge 

I recently finished my sixth book. And I’ve realized that although I still love writing mysteries, it’s getting harder and harder to do. Maybe it’s because I’ve chosen to write a mystery series and am feeling the pressure to keep my characters fresh and my plots tight. And it’s made even more difficult since I write a series featuring an amateur sleuth. I have to constantly come up with reasons for her to get involved in the investigation. Or maybe it’s because writing mysteries is difficult, period.

You see it’s not enough to have a murderer and a victim in a mystery novel. You have to have motivation and suspects. The victim has to have a reason for being a victim. The suspects have to have plausible reasons why they are suspects. The motives and the deception of the suspects has to be revealed in increasingly inventive ways to not only keep the pace of the book moving forward, but to sustain the interest of the readers.

Then there are the red herrings. Red herrings are thrown in to throw the fictional sleuth—and the readers—off and lead them in the wrong direction. The red herrings have to be well placed, and if well done, should ultimately get the sleuth headed back in the right direction. Poorly handled red herrings can take the plot so far off track it can alienate the readers, and ruin the book.

Then there’s are the subplots, the other storylines that are running parallel to the main plot. These storylines usually include some kind of romantic complication, or job/family/health issues, or all of the above, for the main character—or persons close to the main character. Sometimes the subplots can tie into the main plot, sometimes not. However they are handled, they are a necessary part of the book as a whole and can even sometimes be developed into main plots for the following book.

I think the biggest challenge of writing a mystery is laying out all the clues so in the end the reader will realize the answer was there in front of them all along. I never want readers to feel I’ve cheated them by pulling the culprit out of thin air in the last few pages of the book. I want them to be able to follow all the evidence and figure it out. So, in retrospect, I guess it’s not hard at all to see why it’s getting harder and harder to do with each book. But when I hold that new book in my hands, I almost forget all about the challenges. Until, I have to do it again.
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BIO: Angela Henry was once told that her past life careers included spy, researcher, and investigator. She stuck with what she knew because today she's a mystery writing librarian, who loves to people watch and eavesdrop on conversations. She's the author of four mysteries featuring equally nosy amateur sleuth Kendra Clayton, and is also the founder of the award-winning MystNoir website, which promotes African-American mystery writers, and was named a "Hot Site" by USA Today.com. When she's not working, writing, or practicing her stealth, she loves to travel, is connoisseur of B horror movies, and an admitted anime addict. She lives in Ohio and is currently hard at work trying to meet her next deadline. You can visit Angela online at:

http://www.angelahenry.com
http://www.angelahenry.blogspot.com
http://aamysteries.blogspot.com
http://www.twitter.com/mystnoir
True, very true, Angela. And yet, you clever author somehow manage to do that every single time. Kudos for having that kind of deviousness, for otherwise where would poor us mystery fans be?

Disclosure - This guest post is part of a blog tour organized by Pump up your book promotion.
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