Publishing your novel – recap

I am coming up on two years as an Indie Author. Summoned came out in August 2011 and was followed by Quietus in November of that year. The final book in my trilogy, Destiny, was released in November 2012. CIMG1036I also published a short story, The Search, in September 2012. I have learned a lot over the past two years and have written numerous blogs about self-publishing your book. Here is a recap of some of those posts…

Investing in an Awesome Book Cover – The cover of your book is probably one of the most important decisions you will make. It doesn’t matter if you have a great story if no one is willing to pick up the book or in the case of e-books, click on the link.  Click here to read more.

Setting the price for your e-book – You have spent months, even years, toiling over this book. You of course think it is worth just as much as any New York bestseller. The problem is you aren’t Stephen King or John Grisham. No one – or very few people – recognizes your name. Click here to read more.

Writing an awesome book blurb – A few weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of having a book cover that entices the reader to pick up your book or in the digital age, click on the link for your book. Now that the cover has done its job, you need an awesome book description to entice the reader to purchase your book. Click here to read more.

Tips for drafting your author bio – Every author needs an author bio, whether it is for their book, web page, Facebook, author page or when appearing as a guest blogger. The purpose of an author bio is to give readers a clue about who you are and what you are about. Click here to read more.

Does your e-book need a table of contents? You have written your e-book and are ready to publish it. So do you need to include a table of contents? Well, that will depend on the type of book. Click here to read more.

Should you use a Pen Name? – Actors and musicians often don’t use their given names. Some authors also decide to publish under a pseudonym or pen name.  Click here to read more.

Virtual Book Tours: Are they worth it? A popular way to promote your book is to do a book tour. But with limited time and money, many authors opt to forgo touring to physical locations and choose a virtual tour. Click here to read more.

The Benefit of Joining Author Groups  – Becoming a self-published author doesn’t mean you have to navigate the self-publishing world alone. One of the best things I have found is all the wonderful support from other indie authors. They can help you promote your book, give you encouragement, discuss current publishing trends and advise you on which promotional opportunities helped them the most. Click here to read more.

Publishing your e-book through Smashwords – Often the first place new authors think of publishing their e-books is Amazon. And this makes sense since Amazon is the largest e-book retailer out there. But not everyone has a Kindle. Some people have Barnes and Noble’s Nook or Sony’s Kobo or choose to read off their smart phones or computer. To reach these readers, you need to have your book in iTunes, Barnes and Noble, the Kobo store and various other e-book retailers. Click here to read more.

Hopefully, these nine posts can help you start your own self-publishing career.

Why my kids don’t spend a lot of time outside

I often hear people on Facebook or elsewhere lamenting about kids today spending so much time watching TV and playing video games. “I remember when I was a child we spent all day outside,” they say. Well, I am 40 and yes I do remember playing outside without a lot of the concerns of the present day. We did wander the neighborhood, returning when it got dark. But I do remember spending time inside – watching TV and playing video games just as my kids do right now.

Now while everyone is saying kids should be spending more time outside, I don’t usually push my kids to go out to play. And there are a few reasons for that.

Sun1.) The Texas Heat – It is hot here for a good 7-8 months of the year. The time period of “nice” weather for spending time outside is relatively short. In the summer, it is unbearably hot if you are out after 10 am. In March, we already were in the 80s and by May, it was the low 90s. We spend a lot of time in the pool in the summer trying to cool off.

2.) Allergies – Lexie unfortunately is allergic to grass and everything from dust to pollen. Any time spent outside will cause her to scratch. We usually do outside play in small doses and only after taking an extra antihistamine.

3.) Ants & Mosquitoes – This is on the lower end of the scale but there are lots of ants outside. You have to watch where you walk. It isn’t like when I was a kid, and we went barefoot outside a lot. Here if you did that, you will be covered in ant bites. We usually treat the yard for them but that just seems to make them move to another area of the yard. And I don’t know what it is about mosquitoes but they seem to love me and Lexie. This makes bug spray important!

Any adventures outside during the summer are left to the early morning hours or late evening hours. Now this is not say that my kids spend all summer sitting inside. We plan trips to the museum, the library and to indoor play locations. We go to water parks and the pool. They play inside with their friends. And yes, they do watch movies in the afternoons or read books and yes – sometimes play video games.

Today’s Featured Author: Norwood Holland

Today I welcome Norwood Holland to my blog. Norwood is on a virtual book tour promoting his latest book, Minus One.

Book Excerpt

Chapter 1 – Caught Red-Handed

HE OFFICERS WERE dispatched on a possible domestic dispute. They didn’t know what to expect when Mrs. Oliphant met the two at the elevator, one Latino the other African- American, both towering over the blue haired dowager. Nervous and animated, she spoke as rapidly as she stepped, guiding them to the apartment door.

“Are you related?” asked the stocky dark haired Latino. “No. I’m Carol’s next door neighbor. There was a fight and I heard the disturbance,” Mrs. Oliphant sighed and shook her head as though shaking off a secret annoyance. “Mind you, I don’t eavesdrop but I couldn’t help hearing—you know thin walls and vents carry conversations. This is her apartment.”

They stopped in front of the corner apartment at the end of the hall. “I have the key,” she said. Mrs. Oliphant’s tiny trembling liver spotted hand offered it up between the thumb and forefinger. With a nod the Latino urged her to open the door. “Hard to make sense of it all,” she continued her prattle fumbling to get the key in the keyhole, “I could only piece things together. She’s so distraught almost hysterical—it had to be something traumatic. I gave her a sedative.” She relaxed with the key finally in.

“Did you go in?” the Latino asked. He reached over her shoulder, turned the knob and pushed the door open. “No, she told me to call the police.” Mrs. Oliphant followed the two in.


Welcome Norwood, Take us into the main character of Minus One?

My main character is the protagonist Drew Smith.  He’s an urban criminal law attorney and though he is my favorite he is not the most popular among my readers.  Most prefer his sidekick Julio.  I like Drew because he so complex.  Sometimes even though I created him I can’t even explain him.  In my latest release Minus One, readers are often frustrated and confused at why Drew let’s himself be manipulated by his new buddies Medhat and Julio, but Drew wants to accepted.  And Medhat is by nature a manipulator.  Readers expect Drew an alpha male to be in complete control but the book starts out with Julio and Medhat playing him for a fool.  But the situation evolves and reader has to move on and accept Drew’s behavior.  In the end, we see Drew is no fool and allowing himself to being manipulated is all part of his continuing education.

Drew is by far the smartest and as suave and charismatic as his two wingmen, Julio and Medhat.  Truthfully I love them all like a father I can’t favor one son over another.

What Inspired you to write Minus One?

What inspired the story was a fierce argument I witnessed between the real life Medhat and Julio.  Even back then I knew their relationship had the makings of good story.  So I would say the characters of Julio and Medhat were inspired by a real life buddies Medhat and Julio, but that’s as far as the comparison goes.  I can’t emphasize enough that this is a work of fiction.  The novel has some unrestrained and indulgent sexual scenes all of which are a figment of my imagination.  I don’t want readers to get the wrong idea.  All the romantic relationships are mixed, racially and culturally, but the only one, Drew’s relationship with Nina is affected by racism.  The Latina’s father objects to her dating a black man.  The multicultural setting provides the book’s background yet at the dawn of 21st century race remains a major obstacle only for the Black man.  In addition to the suspense of solving the murder I think the reader will find interest in Drew’s reaction to and coping with the situation.

Tell us about your next release.

Snakehead is a story that deals with human trafficing and a corrupt F.B.I. agent.  The story was inspired by the headlines of two actual events (1) the sinking of Golden Venture, a ship loaded with human cargo that ran aground near New York City in 1993. Passengers had paid at least $30,000 each to be brought to the U.S. from China’s Fujian Province, expecting to arrive indebted but unnoticed.  The second event was the murder of Eric Robert Wone.  A young American attorney of Chinese descent who was mysterious murdered in DC.  The two real life events are unrelated but both involve the Chinese immigrant community.  I got creative in linking the two with a corrupt F.B.I. agent who has his own agenda.  When Drew Smith’s law school pal the Chinese-American is mysteriously kill his efforts to track down the killer are thwarted by the F.B.I. agent manipulating the legal system.

Book Description

Minus OneMinus One, the Drew Smith Series prequel, takes us back when the attorney launches his legal career.  Before the ink is dry on his license to practice law Drew Smith finds himself at the center of a murder mystery.  The recent law school graduate works as a hotel concierge and befriends two bellmen an Arab and a Latino, Medhat and Julio.  Like the three musketeers they bond in a fraternal friendship put to the test when Medhat is kidnapped after running up a drug tab he can’t pay.  Rescued by Drew and Julio, Medhat then becomes the prime suspect in a string of murders.  Driven by their romantic entanglements the attorney is captivated with a pretty Latina whose father objects to her dating a Black man. Julio and his Filipina love find themselves expecting, and Medhat’s passion for blondes gets him snared in a femme fatale’s net. Minus One captures Drew Smith’s evolution from youthful indiscretion to a professional burdened with seriousness of purpose.

Author Bio 

Norwood HollandNorwood Holland is a freelance writer, lawyer, and author of the Drew Smith legal thriller series based on the capers of an urban trial attorney.  He is a graduate of Howard University School of Law with a bachelor’s degree in English from Fisk University where he studied under the renowned Harlem Renaissance author Arna Bontemps.  Holland favors D.C.’s local color in his fiction and currently writes the blog devoted to promoting independent authors among other things.

He has served in several government agencies including the National Labor Relations Board and a number of Washington’s top national law firms.  In the mid 90s Holland began freelancing for the local media.  Some of his credits include The Writer Magazine, the Examiner, and Black Literature Magazine.  Minus One follows up on the success of Sleepless Nights, the first in the Drew Smith Series.

You can find out more about Norwood on his website or choose to follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase Minus One on Amazon.

The importance of character flaws

No one wants to read about perfect characters that always smile, act polite and eat their vegetables. No one is perfect and readers don’t expect your characters to be perfect. In other words, everyone has flaws and so should your characters.

As humans, we are short tempered. We overeat when we are nervous. We leave our dirty clothes on the floor. We envy others. We are afraid of heights or the dark. There is no limit to the negative aspects of human behavior. People are greedy, selfish, arrogant, pessimistic, uneducated, abusive…the list can go on and on.

Simply put a character flaw is an imperfection, phobia or deficiency in your character. These flaws can affect your character’s actions and abilities. But this goes beyond just bad habits such as leaving dirty clothes on the floor or chewing with your mouth open. I am talking about the flaws in our character that are ingrained in our very being. These are the flaws that stay with us for our whole lives such a violent temper.

Since these flaws are deeply ingrained, don’t expect your character to overcome them. It is better to have them stay true to themselves. Does this mean they can’t overcome their flaws? No, it means you need a compelling reason for the change, just as there was a compelling reason for the original trait.

Now when creating your character, don’t just concentrate on developing a whole bunch of quirks – those minor flaws that don’t impact your story. Quirks, such as cracking your knuckles, a scar or a thick accent, can be good for differentiating your characters from other characters, but they won’t affect how the story is played out.

You want to focus on flaws that will affect how the character meets his needs. The opponent should “attack” the hero’s weakness, bringing out character flaws in the hero. That is the kind of tension you want for your character. You want your readers to wonder whether his flaws will outshine his virtues this time. You want the reader to wonder if this is the day your character’s flaws actually destroy him.

You don’t need to give your character a tortured past or give him a physical problem. You just need to make him human. Remember the best obstacles are those that are created by the character themselves and these start with character flaws.