Today’s Featured Author – Tolu A. Akinyemi

Today I welcome author Tolu Akinyemi to my blog. He is currently on a virtual book tour promoting his collections of poetry. Dead Lions Don’t Roar came out in August, 2017. The second poetry collection, Dead Dogs Don’t Bark, just came out in September.

Book Blurb #1

Dead Lions Don’t Roar is a collection of inspiring and motivating modern day verses. Addressing many issues close to home and also many taboo subjects, the poetry is reflecting of today’s struggles and lights the way to a positive future. The uplifting book will appeal to all age groups, anyone going through change, building or enjoying a career and facing day to day struggles. Many of the short verses will resonate with readers, leaving a sense of peace and well-being.

You can purchase Dead Lions Don’t Roar on Amazon & Barnes & Noble.

Book Blurb #2

Dead Dogs Don’t Bark is the second poetry collection from the acclaimed author, Tolu A. Akinyemi. With a similar tone and style to Dead Lions Don’t Roar (Tolu’s first poetry collection) this follow up masterpiece is nothing short of pure motivation. The poems cover a range of topics that many in life are aware of, that the Author himself has experienced and that we all, whatever our age, need support in. Beautifully written, the poems speak volumes to all age groups as they feature finding your inner talent, celebrating your individuality and distinct voice. The poetry collection has didactic elements for evaporating the effects of peer pressure and criminality amongst many others. Also covering mental health, relationships, career focus, and general life issues, the poetry is bitter sweet, amusing and thought provoking in turns.

You can purchase Dead Dogs Don’t Bark Amazon on & Barnes & Noble.

About the Author

Tolu Akinyemi was born in Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria and currently lives in the United Kingdom. Tolu Akinyemi is an exceptional talent, out-of-the box creative thinker, a change management agent and a leader par excellence. Tolu is a business analyst and financial crime consultant as well as a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) with extensive experience working with leading Investment banks and Consultancy Firms. Tolu is also a personal development and career coach and a prolific writer with more than 10 years’ writing experience; he is a mentor to hundreds of young people. He worked as an Associate mentor in St Mary’s School, Cheshunt and as an Inclusion Mentor in Barnwell School, Stevenage in the United Kingdom, helping students raise their aspirations, standards of performance and helping them cope with transitions from one educational stage to another.

Tolu has headlined and featured in various Open Slam, Poetry Slam, Spoken Word and Open Mic events in the United Kingdom. He also inspires large audiences through spoken word performances, he has appeared as a keynote speaker in major forums and events in the United Kingdom and facilitates creative writing masterclasses to all types of audiences.

In March 2018 he was endorsed by the Arts Council England as an ‘Exceptional Talent’.

You can connect with Tolu on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. You can learn more about him on his website.

Writing your Author Bio and selecting an Author Photo

This post is the sixty-first post in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

Every author needs an author bio, whether it is for their back matter in their book, their 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.

Here are a few tips for drafting your author bio.

Length

I suggest you create two bios. You can use a longer one on your website or author pages on Amazon or Goodreads, but you will need a shorter one for your books or for appearing on other blogs. Typically, your shorter bio should be about 75 words (give or take about 10 words).

Limit your accomplishments

When writing your bio, don’t list every book or award you have ever won. Focus on a few accomplishments (no more than three) to highlight. If you have written only a book or two, you can list them but once you have a list of books, you don’t need to list each one.

Keep it updated  

Don’t forget to update your bios as you continue writing. If you are using the same one as when you first became published, you probably need to change it from saying you finished your first book to you are now on book seven. (This is what makes Draft2Digital so awesome. With one click you can update the bio in all your books published through them.)

Contact information  

An author bio is like your business card. It should provide readers with a way to contact you. The contact information should appear at the end. You can use your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or email address as your contact info or simply provide your web address.

If you don’t give readers some way to contact you, then you have missed an opportunity to interact with a fan and interaction means everything in today’s high-tech world, even if it is just virtual interaction.

A few other dos and don’ts

  • An author bio should always be written in third person.
  • Keep the information relative to who will be viewing it and tailor it to that audience.
  • Don’t include “resume” type information such as education and job history, which tends to be boring unless they are relevant to the book you are promoting. (This could be key if you are writing a non-fiction book and want to establish yourself as an expert.)
  • Include biographical information such as marital status, number of children, pets or hobbies as these items show you are a normal person and can help readers relate to you.

Author Photo

As with your author bio, you want to take some time and find the best author photo. If you are serious about being an author, you need to think of writing as your business. If you want people to take you seriously, invest in the time to find a good, professional-looking photo.

This means don’t use the fuzzy photo taken of you at the last picnic or use one where you have cropped out your honey’s arms around you. You don’t need one of you with your cat or your kids (unless you are known for writing about these topics.)

Here is my author photo which was cropped from a picture taken inside my house.

Now this doesn’t mean you need to hire a professional photographer or go down to a studio for pictures. In fact, studio pictures may be too formal for your author photo. You can opt to do the photo yourself (or with the help of a friend). There are many websites that can help you with setting, poses or clothing.

It is a good idea to use the same photo everywhere, so you can build face recognition. But you may need to crop the photo depending on the use – a tighter crop for Twitter while using a wider shot for Facebook or your own website.

Whatever photo you decide to use – formal, fun, serious, or happy – just make sure it projects the image you want to convey as an author.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb

#42 – Deciding on Front Matter for your novel

#43 – Deciding on Back Matter for your novel

#44 – Formatting your eBook for publication

#45 – Pricing your e-book

#46 – Selecting Categories and Keywords to improve your Novel’s visibility

#47 – Book Promotions: Cover Reveal and Pre-Orders

#48 – Publishing your novel with Amazon and KDP Select

#49 – Publishing your e-book with Smashwords or Draft2Digital

#50 – Marketing your E-book

#51 – Finding your Book’s Target Market

#52 – The importance of Book Reviews and how to get them

#53 – Is it worth it to offer your book for free?

#54 – My results from offering my novels for free

#55 – Amzon’s Kindle Countdown Deals explained and my results

#56 – Selling your book through book ads

#57 – Using a Book Trailer to promote your novel

#58 – Offering your novels or short stories as a box set

#59 – Deciding whether to offer your book as an audio book

#60 – Taking your book on a virtual book tour

Cooking almost every night

Most evenings you can find me in the kitchen cooking dinner. My neighbor, a mother of three grown daughters, marveled over this since she doesn’t cook every night now and certainly didn’t when her girls were younger.

But I don’t find this odd. When I was growing up, most evenings my mom cooked. In the summer, my dad might grill but my mom was still in the kitchen making the salad or side dishes. To me, it is just natural to cook dinner rather than eat out.

Now, I am a stay-at-home mom, so I am sure there are people out there who think that is the only reason I have the time to cook at home. But even when I worked, I cooked daily.

But looking at reports, I am certainly not the norm. Only a third of Americans cook at home daily. Fifty percent say they cook at home between three and six days a week. And then there are the Millennials (those age 19 to 35) who cook only once or twice a week – if at all.

Wow.

These numbers come as a shock to me. I hadn’t realized that cooking at home was that odd. Now, I do know several parents who have their kids in every activity under the sun, so they get home late or need to eat on the run. These families do eat out more or pick up convenience food from the grocery store.

And there are those that work who juggle their commute with family duties or perhaps even a second job. It does take time to plan, shop, prepare, cook and clean up. So, time is definitely a factor for many families that it is no wonder many don’t cook.

And nowadays it is easier than ever not to cook. There are restaurants, fast-food places, places that deliver to your door, meal subscription kits and even pre-made meals you can pick up at the grocery store.

But with some planning, I don’t find cooking at home to be that much of a chore. There are plenty of cookbooks out there with quick meals and with insta-pots or slow cookers, the number of meals you can quickly get on the table are plentiful.

Some people even spend part of their weekend prepping meals for the week or even batch cooking meals. My brother, who lives alone, does batch cooking. He makes large meals and then stores individual servings in his freezer. He can enjoy a home cooked meal by simply popping one in the microwave.

The closest I come to planning ahead is I write out a 2-week menu of meals. We don’t necessarily have them on the days I write them down, but it does make grocery shopping easier. It allows me to ensure that I have the ingredients for those meals and lets me plan for super quick meals when I know there is a tight evening schedule.

And there are so many benefits to cooking and eating at home. It is healthier. It is cheaper. And research shows that those who eat at home regularly tend to be happier. I’m not sure that last one is true but the savings and the family time make it worth it for me.

 

Taking your book on a virtual book tour

This post is the sixtieth post in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

A popular way to promote your book is to do a book tour. In the technology world where books are now often e-books only, the book tours are now virtual.

Virtual book tours (VBT), also called book blog tours or virtual author tours, usually consist of book reviews, author interviews, guest posts and book excerpts on various blogs or podcasts over a set time frame.

A VBT is designed to generate interest in your book. A VBT can get your name in front of people and help you build a relationship with your readers and potential readers. In turn this should increase your sales, but often it is hard to see a direct correlation between the two. What you are hoping to do is get your name and books in front of as many people as possible.

As an author, you can schedule your own tour or hire someone to do it for you.

Do-It-Yourself

Setting up your own virtual book tour takes commitment, and you need to be very organized. You can find bloggers to host you by visiting blogs that feature your genre. Or you can post on various writer or blogger boards to connect with bloggers who would be interested in hosting you.

You want to look for blogs with high-traffic volume and preferably ones with followers who read your genre. The hardest part is finding enough bloggers to fill up your tour dates. Some blogs fill up quickly and need to be booked months in advanced.

Hire Someone

If you don’t have the time to set one up yourself, there are many companies that will coordinate one for you. The prices can range from inexpensive ($30) to expensive ($1000+) depending on which company you use and how long of a tour you choose to have.

Either way, expect to spend quite a bit of time writing guest posts or answering interview questions.

What to look for in a book tour service

First, check out their stats. If their site ranks in the millions on Alexa, it means they get very little traffic. (The lower the number the better. Numbers in the hundreds of thousands are good.)

Next, check to see who is on their list of bloggers. How many bloggers are listed? (Make sure it’s a lot.) Go to those sites and check how many followers they have. This may be time consuming, but if the blog sites have few followers, it will do you little good to have them post an interview or review.

How effective is a virtual book tour?

That depends entirely on where reviews, spotlights, and interviews are posted. Highly trafficked sites will be more effective than sites with just a few followers. If you plan it right, a book tour that includes influential sites can create considerable buzz. The difficulty many Indie authors face is that they don’t have the time it takes to research well-trafficked sites. And, of course, tours require some planning. You may need to start booking two to three months in advance of your book’s release date.

How long should a blog tour last?

In general, the length of the book tour is determined by the number of hosts. Ideally, you want one or two bloggers a day to be talking about your book. That means a 1-week tour may have between 7 and 14 bloggers. A 2-week tour would have 14–28. The reason you don’t want everyone talking about your book at once is that, just like a conversation, it will be impossible for readers to pay attention. On the internet, too much simultaneous talk looks like spam, which people routinely tune out.

Whether you plan it yourself or hire someone, a virtual book tour can only help build your exposure which you can hope will turn into sales.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb

#42 – Deciding on Front Matter for your novel

#43 – Deciding on Back Matter for your novel

#44 – Formatting your eBook for publication

#45 – Pricing your e-book

#46 – Selecting Categories and Keywords to improve your Novel’s visibility

#47 – Book Promotions: Cover Reveal and Pre-Orders

#48 – Publishing your novel with Amazon and KDP Select

#49 – Publishing your e-book with Smashwords or Draft2Digital

#50 – Marketing your E-book

#51 – Finding your Book’s Target Market

#52 – The importance of Book Reviews and how to get them

#53 – Is it worth it to offer your book for free?

#54 – My results from offering my novels for free

#55 – Amzon’s Kindle Countdown Deals explained and my results

#56 – Selling your book through book ads

#57 – Using a Book Trailer to promote your novel

#58 – Offering your novels or short stories as a box set

#59 – Deciding whether to offer your book as an audio book

Recipe of the Month – Burgundy Beef Strips

Another recipe from my mom. This one takes over an hour to cook so make sure you have the time, but oh so worth the time. It is delicious.

Ingredients

2 lbs. beef round steak

1/3 cup flour

2 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper

3 T. shortening

2 bouillon cubes, crushed

1 cup boiling water

12 small onions (or several slices of a large onion)

1 cup burgundy wine

2 T. catsup

1 small bay leaf

1/2 t. thyme

1/9 t. garlic powder

1/2 lb. mushrooms, halved

Chopped parsley

Directions

Cut steak into strips 1/8 by 2 inches. Combine flour, salt and pepper. Dredge steak in flour. Brown in hot shortening. Pour off drippings. Dissolve bouillon in boiling water and add to meat. Add onions, wine, catsup, bay leaf, thyme and d garlic powder. Cover tightly and cook slowly for 45 minutes. Add mushrooms. Cover and continue cooking for 15 minutes or until meat is tender. Remove bay leaf. Serve over rice or noodles.

Serves 6 to 8.