Today’s Featured Author: Nicole R. Dickson

Please welcome author Nicole R. Dickson to Into Another World.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a native of California and a child of the West. I also would say I have wandering feet. From the time I was born, we moved around a lot on the West coast, from city to city, house to house. If I look at it, the longest I’ve lived in any one place in my life is the house I am in here in North Carolina – nine years, which is very long for me. Did you ever read Chocolat? See the movie? That main character is how I feel – a woman in a red cape holding her daughter by the hand and hearing the North wind call her to join its wayward journey. That’s me – the wayfaring stranger.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

I’ve always been a storyteller since I was little. I was always in my head somewhere else, living in a world of my creation, built on the world around me. In college, I had professors suggest I pursue a career in writing, but I just didn’t have it in me at the time to sit down and write. I didn’t have that discipline. Everything changed with the death of my mother. I realized how short our lives are and how precious are the stories of the people that surround us. Somehow, right then, I figured out how to put a story together and had the focus to actually write it down hour after hour.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Like I said, I’m a storyteller. Always have been. Writing takes discipline, which I never had really. I’ve always written, of course, but never finished anything except poetry. Then I took to writing children’s stories. Always something short so I didn’t have to commit – my motto in writing. The stories were always in my head, though. So, with my mother’s death, I started writing down what was in my mind day after day, week after week. I’d tell a good friend of mine over and over again how I wanted to be a writer. It was such a longing and such an impossible dream to be one. Then, one day in one of our conversations, she turned to me and said, “Nicci, you are a writer. What is a writer if not someone who writes, which you do all the time.” That day was an eye opener for sure – a complete shift in how I saw myself. It changed how I spoke to myself. I didn’t want to be a writer. I was a writer. I am a writer.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

Actually, I don’t. Different writers have different ways to forge a story. In college, when the professors would say I should take up a career in writing, I always said no precisely because I hated outlining stories. I didn’t like structure like that because it totally snuffed out the lightness of my imagination. So now, I couldn’t write an outline to any of my stories to save my life. That said, what I always do have is the end. Once I have the end, I can start and I have a meandering path to walk to that end. It’s a journey filled with surprises and miracles and wisdom born elsewhere and funneled through my pen. Honestly, I can say I don’t even feel like it is me writing. It is something else – something far wiser and deeper than I can ever be. And I love being with it – listening to it scratch its story on to paper.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

Here and Again takes place now but also has a storyline back in the Civil War. I’ve been wandering around the Civil War for a very long time, so I had a great deal of the research completed when I started. I guess you could say, I spent eleven years or more researching for this book. I also spent that much time waiting for a story to come that took place in the Civil War. I wanted to write one, but had to wait for it. Finally it came, which was such a fantastic road to walk down. I was also lucky that it came when my wandering feet brought me to North Carolina. I was in the vicinity of all the great battles of the Eastern theater and I walked many of them. I also have realized I’m not done with this time in our history, though. I sense I’ve got a couple others yet to come from that time.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you tell us bit about your next book?

Currently, I am working on a novel that deals with Sherman’s Special Field Orders , No. 15, which, back in the Civil War, was a military order that allotted 40 acres (and a mule but that is questionable) to the newly freed black slaves in Georgia, South Carolina, and several other states. This history has become the tale the Red family of Antres Vast, Georgia tells each generation as to how they came to own the property on which they live and that same 40 acres is now at the center of a major family battle. As with most family stories, the telling changes in time and is rarely reflective of the reality way back when. In fact, sometimes family history is nothing but a myth and the truth is deeper, darker, and more defining of who we are than even we ourselves can possibly imagine.

Book Blurb

Here&AgainCoverDeep in the Shenandoah Valley, the present and the past are as restless as the river mists. And when they collide, the heart is the only compass pointing home.

For nurse Ginger Martin, her late husband’s farm is both a treasured legacy and the harbinger of an uncertain future. Since he was recently killed in Iraq, every day is fraught with grief that won’t abate. Keeping the farm going and nourishing her children’s hopes without him seems as impossible as having dreams for the future—or going back into the past…

By a curious coincidence, a stranger appears in Ginger’s life, always showing up to help in unexpected and much-needed ways. He says he’s a soldier, lost and trying to make his way home, but Ginger understands that Samuel is a kindred spirit, longing to repair a life interrupted. The challenges of their hopes and longings will test who they really are in the most heartbreaking of ways. And only by coming to terms with their losses and the necessity of change will Ginger and Samuel be able to each make a future of their own—and discover at last where their true home lies…

Author Nicole R. Dickson creates an indelible, delicate world filled with heartbreak and hope, seamlessly weaving past and present, and tying together the personal price we pay for legacy, war and duty.

About the Author 

NicoleRDicksonNicole R. Dickson is the author of two novels, the first of which, Casting Off (2009), was a top ten entry in the first Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in 2008. Additionally, as a business executive, she writes essays on leadership and defining brand. An avid student of history, she can most often be found buried in that section of the library and finds many of the books there follow her home to rest on her bedside table. Here and Again is her second novel.

You can find out more about Nicole on her website. You can also follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

Here and Again is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, IndieBound and Powell’s.

Deciding on back matter for your e-book

Last week, I covered front matter (all the pages BEFORE your story) in your book. Today, I want to talk about back or matter – which as you guessed is all the pages AFTER your story.

If you don’t list anything after your story, you are wasting a prime opportunity to connect with the reader. They just read and loved your story. This is a prime spot to point them to your other books or even ask for a review. (Thank you for reading my book. If you enjoyed it, please take a moment to leave a review at your favorite retailer.)

Here are some things to consider including in your back matter…

About the author

This section is pretty self-explanatory. My only comment is this needs to be a brief (think of the back inside cover of a paperback) bio. This is not the time to list out every one of your accomplishments.  Try to keep it to about 100 words or less.

Here is what is listed in my first book, Summoned:

About the Author

Susan Leigh Noble has always loved dragons and magic so it is no wonder that she became an author of fantasy novels. She began writing Summoned, her first complete novel, many years ago. It was released in digital form in 2011. The sequel, Quietus, continues the tale of Lina and her telepathic cat, Tosh. Quietus will be released in late 2011. The Elemental series will conclude with a third book to be released in 2012.

In addition to writing, Susan Noble spends her days taking care of her two young children and husband in Texas.

She loves to hear from readers: susanleighnoble@gmail.com

Check out her Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Susan-Leigh-Noble/200225396700412

Follow her on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/SusanLeighNoble

List of other books

This is where you list other books that you have written. This can be listed in the front OR the back of the book. I personally like it at the back of the book when publishing an e-book.

Here is what could be listed in my next book.

Discover other titles by Susan Leigh Noble

The Search (short story prequel to The Elemental trilogy)

Summoned: Book 1 of The Elemental

Quietus: Book 2 of The Elemental

Destiny: Book 3 of The Elemental

 Connect with me

This is where you can let your readers know how to reach you. Feel free to list your blog, Facebook, Twitter or even your email account. You can see an example above under About the Author.

Promote your next book

If they loved your book, point them to the next one. At the end of the first two books in my trilogy, I always let the reader know there was another book coming. Here is the teaser from Quietus.

Here ends Book Two of The Elemental.

Book Three continues the tale of Lina and Val

as they try to repair the damage to the Land

and realize their battle with Selda isn’t over yet.

Now at the end of my short story, The Search, I actually included the prologue and first chapter of book one of my trilogy.

The story of Lina and Tosh continues in Summoned: Book One of The Elemental.

Please enjoy the prologue and first chapter of Book One after the “About the Author” section.

Promote someone else’s book

You might team up with another author and promote each other’s work. You could include an “If you like this book, you might like…” or even include a sample chapter from their book. Be sure to include links.

Afterward

This is similar to the foreword (which could be included in the front matter) in that it explores how the book came to be written.

In a non-fiction book, you also could have a bibliography, index or glossary as part of the back matter.

As for fiction, some authors may include an epilogue as part of the back matter, but as I said with a prologue, I consider this to be part of the story and not part of the back matter as this is more like the final chapter of your story used to wrap up loose ends.

There really is no limit to the amount of information you can put after your story has come to an end. It would be a waste not to include at least one or two of these items as your back matter to help you sell more books and build a fan base.

Wanted: Authors for Featured Author spot

Would you like to be a featured author on my blog? I host guest authors every week – any genre, both traditionally and self-published.

The post can take one of three formats: author interview, book excerpt or a guest post on any aspect of writing, publishing, and book marketing.

I feature guest authors on Fridays, on a first-come-first-served basis, though I do have a few Tuesday openings to accommodate special requests for dates related to promotions such as book tours or book releases. Right now I have one Friday in November (28th) open as well as two in December (19th & 26th) and all of January open.

If you are interested, send me a message along with any date requests, and we’ll take it from there.

Parent-Teacher conferences result in tutoring for both kids

Fall parent-teacher conferences are over, and mostly the news was good. But both teachers recommend each kid has some extra help to make sure they keep up with their classes.

Lexie (1st grade)

We had Lexie’s conference back in October. Her teacher opted to do her conference early because she wanted to talk to us before Lexie began getting extra help with her reading.

In Texas every student, kinder through second grade, takes a TPRI test at the beginning of the school year to access reading skills. In September, Lexie struggled to read the text on her own. Her teacher said she was reading at a Level D. This level is an end of kinder/beginning of first-grade level, but they expect them to read at the J/K level by the end of first grade.

Little girl reading bookNow to help, Lexie advance her reading skills and meet this goal, they suggested she attend a reading program called RAP. We are no stranger to this program as Jase did this at the end of first grade and then again in second grade. His participation was to build up his fluency (the speed in which he reads).

Now when you look at Lexie’s reading score for the first quarter of the year, you might wonder why she needs extra help. She received a 93, but this grade is about reading comprehension. (She did well on the TRPI test in this aspect too.)

So now she attends RAP four times a week for extra reading help. This is done during class when other students are writing in the journals or doing busy work. Lexie is given time to do the same sheets and write in her journal during other parts of the day. RAP also increases her homework by about fifteen minutes each day. I have already seen an improvement in her reading.

Jase (3rd grade)

Now while Jase has struggled in reading before, his teacher wasn’t as concerned about his reading skills. She did say he needed to work on them. When he reads aloud, he is reading at an end of 2nd grade level. He is right on target on reading silently. He did well on his reading benchmark test, placing above the school average. But she still suggests he practice reading aloud, which is something we haven’t been doing this school year.

Teacher writing math equation on chalkboard uid 1281297Her concern was more his math skills. His lowest grade at 84 is in math. He does fine with math, but he is slow at it. Even last year when we worked on basic math facts such as addition and subtraction up to 20, Jase could never seem to get the speed they wanted.

On his math benchmark, he scored only 8 above the passing level and about 20 points below the school average. Now he did say that he had problems with the test. He got hung up on one problem and then later was distracted when he realized others were done with the test, but he was still working.

But Jase does this often when under pressure. He freezes up. I definitely think he has test anxiety, and I am concerned it will only get worse as this is the first year that he has standardized testing. The Texas STARR test is this April, and you must pass to move up to the next grade.

So to help Jase become more confident with math, his teacher has suggested he join an after school math tutoring session that meets once a week. I am all for more help, and he actually seems excited about it. The math tutoring hasn’t begun so I don’t know yet if it will help.

I am just glad that the teachers recommended help and better yet, it is all through the school so no extra cost for us. I can’t wait to see them improve.

Today’s Featured Author: HL Carpenter

Today, I welcome author HL Carpenter to Into Another World.

Interview

Hi, HL! Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi, Susan! First we’d like to say thank you for offering to share your blog space with us. We appreciate your generosity.

To answer your question, we’re Helen and Lorri Carpenter, a mother/daughter team, and we use the pen name HL Carpenter. We write from our studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like our stories, is unreal but not untrue.

Carpenter Country sounds like a great place to be creative. Please tell us about your current release.

Our latest release is a cozy mystery.

A Cause for Murder features Emma Twiggs, a septuagenarian sleuth. Emma thinks her neighbor’s death was an accident—until her friend Arnie says he suspects murder. Arnie is convinced he knows the killer’s identity. He wants Emma to prove it. Is Arnie right? And is he right in his belief that Emma’s best friend is the killer’s next target? As Emma navigates madcap mayhem, multiple mysteries, and murderous motives, she discovers that more than one person is hiding deadly secrets. The question is, who has a cause for murder?

We’re trying out a new launch venue with this book. A Cause for Murder is entered in the initial roll out of the Amazon Kindle Scout program. This is a crowd-sourcing concept—that is, authors post their book covers and excerpts, and readers nominate the ones they like. The nominated books are in the running for a publishing contract. If the book gets a contract, the readers who nominated the book get a free copy.

What inspired you to write A Cause for Murder?

We were going to say we like mysteries. But that’s not the whole truth. We like solving mysteries. We learned that last spring, when an avian murder took place in Carpenter Country.

The backstory for the mystery that turned us into amateur sleuths began in April when two bluebirds met at the garden fountain. Their courtship quickly winged its way to nest building, then egg laying.

All went according to nature’s plan until the morning Mr. B began flying from the roof of his house down to the entrance and poking his head inside. Then he would hop back and fly away, only to return moments later to repeat the process. All the while he called Help, Help! in a shrill voice.

We rushed outside and peered into the box’s opening. The nest was empty! Mrs. B and her five eggs had vanished during the night with not even a stray feather left behind.

We did have a few clues. The bowl-shaped grass-woven nest inside the box was untouched. No broken eggshells were in evidence. The ground beneath the raised nest box was grassy and revealed no tracks.

Who would have committed such a gruesome deed? We considered the usual suspects.

The neatness of the murder scene meant the killer could not have been Mr. Raccoon. While he was fastidious about washing his food, he would have left the eggshells behind.

Mrs. Possum might have been willing to commit murder to feed her youngsters, but she was not neat by any stretch of the word’s definition. Feathers, pieces of eggshell, and a demolished nest would have resulted from nefarious activity on her part.

Ms. Fox was also raising a family. She would have been happy to gobble the eggs complete with shells, and swallow Mrs. Bluebird as afters. But the nest box was high off the ground, perched on a post with a tiny entrance designed to deter fox-sized predators.

Mr. Snake—hmmm. We circled the nest box in a widening search pattern and found Mr. Snake sleeping peacefully on a sun-warmed flat rock beneath a fence post. Egg-shaped bulges in his otherwise sleek body gave away his villainous act.

In cozy mysteries, this is the point where the police haul the suspect away in handcuffs. Unfortunately, the wildlife police force was not on duty to help with this particular arrest.

As if feeling the weight of our judgment upon him, Mr. Snake awoke, spotted us and slithered off the rock, escaping through the tall grass. Letting him get away with murder hardly seemed fair. But what could we do?

While we pondered suitable punishment, Mrs. Hawk plummeted from the sky, thrashed in the grass for a moment, then rose in a rush of feathered wings. She flapped into the clear blue sky, Mr. Snake writhing in her talons.

We’d been wrong. The wildlife police force was on the job.

We went back to the birdhouse. Mr. B sat on the roof of his once happy home, his head drooping. We couldn’t heal his heart. But we could thoroughly murder-proof his home to avert future tragedy.

A week later, Mr. B brought a new bride to his remodeled bungalow. She inspected the shiny five-foot stovepipe baffle beneath the box, cocking her head at the clang, wiggle and sway as if deciding whether the improved security would throw intruders to the ground. She came to the conclusion it would and set to work building a nest with Mr. B’s help.

The newlyweds’ first clutch of three hatched fourteen days later.

That was quite an inspiration! Have you begun your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about what you’re working on?

We have and we can. In addition to thoughts of future cozies starring Emma Twiggs, our septuagenarian sleuth, we always have one or two projects in the works, generally in different stages. Right now, we have a themed collection of short stories in the draft-one writing stage. We also have a middle grade/young adult novel in the final stages of editing, and another still in revision.

You sure keep a busy schedule. Just for fun and to wrap up the interview so you can get back to work, tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

We once shared Carpenter Country with a horse whose sire was a movie star. But that’s a story for a different day.

We’ll look forward to reading it. Thanks for stopping by.

You’re welcome. Thank you for inviting us. Now that we’ve met, we invite you to visit us in Carpenter Country any time.

Book Blurb

A Cause for Murder cover compressedSeptuagenarian sleuth Emma Twiggs thinks her neighbor’s death was an accident—until her friend Arnie says he suspects murder.

Arnie is convinced he knows the killer’s identity. He wants Emma to prove it.

Is Arnie right? And is he right in believing the same killer has another victim in mind—Emma’s best friend?

As Emma navigates madcap mayhem, multiple mysteries, and murderous motives, she discovers more than one person is hiding deadly secrets.

The question is, who has a cause for murder?

About the Authors

LorriHelen CompressedHL Carpenter writes sweet, clean fiction suitable for your entire family. Visit HLCarpenter.com for gift reads and the latest Carpenter Country news.

HL Carpenter’s cozy mystery, A Cause for Murder, is currently enrolled in the Amazon Kindle Scout program. You can read an excerpt and a brief author interview here.

Choosing the front matter for your self-published book

You have worked hard on your novel and are now ready to publish it. But the first thing readers will see when they begin reading your e-book won’t be your story. Everything that goes before your story is called the Front Matter and introduces your book to the reader.

It comprises at a minimum the book’s title and copyright information, but can include other things such as a preface, dedication, or table of contents.

What you include is up to you but don’t want to have a lot of front matter as this is just more pages your reader has to flip/scroll through to reach the start of your book. Also, if you put in too much at the front, it will decrease the amount of pages your reader can download or view online as part of a sample of your book.

Title Page (*a must)

This page is pretty obvious. You list the title of your book (and series) and who wrote it. This looks best if you center it.

Quietus

Book Two of The Elemental

 By Susan Leigh Noble

 Copyright Page (*a must)

On the copyright page, you list the copyright notice which will contain the name of the copyright owner and the publication year. This page may also list the permissions and disclaimers. Keep the information to this page to a minimum.

Remember that if you’re publishing through Smashwords you will need to put “Smashwords Edition” or “Published by (your name) at Smashwords.”

Here is the copyright page from Quietus.

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination. Any resemblances to persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2011 by Susan Leigh Noble

Published by Susan Leigh Noble

Cover design by Donna Casey (www.digitaldonna.com)

Photos used to create the cover were obtained from dreamtime.com.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system — except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review to be printed in a magazine, newspaper, or on the web — without expressed written permission from Susan Leigh Noble. 

Dedication/Acknowledgement (optional)

If you would like to dedicate your book to someone, it is done in the front of the book. It is located after the copyright page but before any table of contents or start of the actual book. Again, keep this short – one or two people.

My dedication from Summoned:

To my husband,

Without you, this book would not exist.

Acknowledgments are to thank those people who have helped in the creation of your novel – the police officer you interviewed, your editor, your spouse for their support and so on.

List of other books (optional)

This is where you list other books that you have written. This can be listed in the front OR the back of the book. I personally like it at the back of the book when publishing an e-book.

Here is what could be listed in the third book of my trilogy.

Discover other titles by Susan Leigh Noble

The Search (short story prequel to The Elemental trilogy)

Summoned: Book 1 of The Elemental

Quietus: Book 2 of The Elemental

 Preface (optional)

This piece written by the author often tells why the book was written, your research methods and perhaps some acknowledgements if they are not listed separately. This is more common in non-fiction.

Forward (optional)

This is a short piece written by someone other than the author and may provide a context for the main work. If this is a work of non-fiction, a forward by an expert can lend authority to your book. The forward is usually signed with its author’s name, place and date.

Table of Contents (optional)

A table of contents is most often added to non-fiction books. Now whether your fiction book needs a TOC is a matter of preference. If you do include a TOC, it should be right before your first chapter or prologue.

Now some people may consider the prologue (a scene written from a character’s point of view to set up your story) as part of the front matter, but I consider this as part of my actual story and not part of the front matter. Every book in my trilogy has a prologue.

No matter what you decide to include in your front matter – remember to keep it to a minimum so readers don’t have pages to flip/scroll through in order to get to the main event – your story.