WANTED – Authors for Featured Author Spot

wantedNOW Looking for August, September & October! 

Are you an author looking for some additional publicity for your latest book?

I host guest authors every Friday – any genre, both traditionally and self-published. In the past 5 years, I have hosted 288 authors on my site!

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

Sign up is on a first-come-first-served basis, though I do have a few Tuesday openings to accommodate special requests for dates related book tours, book releases or cover reveals. (Click the Featured Authors link on the left to check out past authors.)

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

Today’s Featured Author – Michelle Stimpson

Please welcome author Michelle Stimpson to my blog. Michelle currently is on a virtual book tour for her short story, Who Killed My Husband?, which was released in June.

Guest Post – Advice for first time authors

The publishing industry has changed tremendously since I first became an author in 2004. In fact, I would say that anything written about publishing/marketing books before 2012 is pretty close to obsolete.  Here’s what I would tell first-time authors who are entering the market in this digital age.

  • If you’re writing non-fiction, know the purpose of the book before you publish. Did you write this book to get clients? To establish yourself as a fresh, innovative voice in your field? If your goal is to use this book to validate your expertise, use it that way—not necessarily as a money-making tool. You might end up giving away more copies to secure radio/TV appearances than actually selling them online to the general public.
  • If your goal is to become a full-time writer, realize that also means become a full-time marketer. This doesn’t mean you have to become a sales person, per se, it just means you have to be serious and deliberate about reaching your market with your message. Be prepared to pay money in order to get in people’s faces on social media and Amazon. Free advertising is just about over these days. Can you post stuff on your page? Yes. Can you make and share memes? Yes. But the question is: How many people will get to see them? These days, not many unless you pay for the exposure. Don’t be afraid of this. You can start small ($2-5 a day for 7 days), then gauge your success. If it’s not working, quit and try something else. When it does work, scale up to $10 and more a day for as long as it works. You’ve got to think of this like: Somebody’s selling 20-dollar-bills for $10. The only catch is you have to wait 60 days to get the $20. If you’re in it for the long haul, this is not a problem.
  • If you really don’t have a goal for your book, that’s okay, too. Whatever happens happens. It’s all good. Write because you want to have fun with it. If your book helps just one person, you’ve succeeded in your own way. This is what matters most. You won’t have to live with regrets your whole life about not ever writing the book that’s been sitting on your heart.

Book Blurb

Ashley Crandall finally convinced her husband, Allan, to attend the Christian men’s retreat…but he ends up dead there. What happened to him on the campgrounds? Who would want to kill Allan? And why are the detectives pointing fingers at Ashley? In her quest to solve the mystery and clear her name, Ashley will learn something about her husband that she didn’t want to know and something about her Christian faith that shifts her life.

About the Author

Michelle Stimpson is an author, a speaker, and an educator who received her Bachelor of Science degree from Jarvis Christian College in 1994. She earned a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2002. She has had the pleasure of teaching elementary, middle, and high school as well as training adults. In addition to her work in the field of education, Michelle ministers through writing and public speaking. Her works include the highly acclaimed Boaz Brown, Divas of Damascus Road (National Bestseller), and Falling Into Grace. She has published several short stories for high school students through her educational publishing company, Right Track Academic Support Services, at http://www.wegottaread.com. Michelle serves in women’s ministry at her home church, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, in Dallas, TX. She regularly speaks at special events and writing workshops sponsored by churches, schools, book clubs and other positive organizations, and she has taught writing classes at the University of Texas at Arlington. Michelle lives near Dallas with her husband, their two teenage children, and one crazy dog.

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

You can purchase Who Killed My Husband? on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks or Google.

Today’s Featured Author – Candy Korman

Today, I welcome author Candy Korman to my blog.

Guest Post – Location, Location, Location…

I live in real estate obsessed New York City, but this post is about a special kind of real estate—locations in fiction. The place in a story can be everything from a simple backdrop to a fleshed out “character.”

As a reader, I often travel via fiction. I’ve visited Donna Leon’s Venice so many times, that I half expected to run into Commissario Brunetti every time I entered a quiet piazza on my last actual visit to that beautiful city. Last night, I couldn’t sleep so I spent a few hours in Carl Hiaasen’s Key West. The sense of place that some authors achieve is seductive.

Real places help establish credibility for the incredible. Placing a wild adventure with improbable twists and turns in a setting that feels familiar draws the reader inside the drama (or comedy). This can be a typical suburb or a clichéd small town, but I think it works better when it’s a REAL, real place—a specific location that many, if not all, readers know on some level. Set a chase scene on the Capitol Mall and even people who have never traveled to Washington, DC will recognize the landmarks.

I just want to caution authors who know a popular place only from movies and TV to be very, very careful about how they use the location.  Real places are tricky if you don’t know your territory. I’ve read all too many novels set in NYC that were written by people who seem to use old Woody Allen movies and Law & Order episodes as their primary source of location details. It’s upsetting when a subway goes to the wrong place or people use the wrong regional expression, i.e. sack versus bag. When I’ve set a story in place I love, but do not know intimately, I check maps, and verify as many details as possible.

When you know the terrain well, you can plunk a fictional restaurant, warehouse, office tower, horse farm etc. into the landscape and get away with it because it’s similar—or even based upon—a real place in a real area. This allows you the freedom to create the right location for your fiction. Just don’t give it an address that puts it in the East River!

A realistic setting makes the vampire, werewolf, ghost or other paranormal, supernatural or magical creature seem possible—even probable. I like “ground” such stories in places I know very well, taking a walk on the streets where the character lives—or hunts, haunts, hovers and hides.

There’s something to be said for the pure invention of places in fantasy and science fiction. I admire the ability of these authors to “map” a universe in its entirety, while I’m more excited by writing about a werewolf on Wall Street or the Devil dropping in to visit my favorite coffee bar. In fiction and in life, it’s location, location location…

Book Blurb

mary-shelley-game‘The Mary Shelley Game’ is a contemporary literary thriller inspired by the horror classic — Frankenstein. A group of friends gather in a country house to share gourmet food, excellent wine and their own stories based on Frankenstein, but in the woods surrounding the house, a real monster lurks, plotting a bloody and violent end to the party.

‘The Mary Shelley Game’ is the first of ‘The Monsters,’ a series of new stories with roots in familiar tales of terror by Candy Korman.

About the Author 

candyCandy Korman (AKA Candida) lives, writes, and dances Argentine Tango in New York City. Visitors to the Candy’s Monsters blog site will find twice weekly Monster Meditations on writing & all things monstrous; free short stories on the Timeless Tales page; links to books available on Amazon; and periodic Monster-themed contests.

You can find out more about Candy on her website.

You can check out all of her books on Amazon.

Guest Post: Author Holly Kerr

Today I welcome author Holly Kerr to my blog. She recently released her latest book – The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd.

Guest Post: Why The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd was the Most Fun I’ve Had Writing a Book

First of all, I am incredibly lucky to be able to write full-time. Writing is my career and it’s something I enjoy doing every day. I love to write; to create characters, develop plots and dialogue. I’ve had amazing experiences writing my novels and for each, I’ve put in a little certain something of myself; from adding real life pregnancy trials and tribulations in my first book, Unexpecting; to delving into my relationship with my sister in Coming Home; to researching the infamous spirit in Absinthe Doesn’t Make the Heart Grow Fonder and especially using my kids as characters in my kids lit novel The Dragon Under the Mountain.

But writing The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd was something special.

For the first time, (except for Dragon) I moved away from the women’s fiction/ chick lit genre. I still classify Charlotte as chick lit, but it’s more. There’s action. Adventure. Fight scenes. Jumping out of a helicopter. There’s even a car chase where a Mini Cooper does a 360 degree spin and our heroine manages to shot the car following them.

There’s the old advice – write what you know.  Great advice and I do my best to follow it. I don’t write about architecture or Russian espionage or quantum physics because I wouldn’t have a clue where to start! I write about having a baby and sisters and girls’ night outs. And for Charlotte, I wrote about a twentysomething girl confused about her boyfriend.

Charlotte is a little more than that.

I have to admit, I haven’t exactly done all of the things that Charlotte gets to in the story. I’ve got into a drunken shouting match in my youth, but I’ve never actually thrown a punch. I’ve ziplined, but never between high-rise hotels.  I would love to say I have first- hand experience of all of Charlotte’s adventures, but I can’t.

Note to self: maybe I shouldn’t admit that! It might be a great marketing tool if I let everyone think I’m as bad-ass as Charlotte. After all, there were readers convinced Unexpecting was an autobiography. (It isn’t btw, nor is it non-fiction. It’s a made up story!)

But I can’t do it. I can’t devise a Charlotte-like persona to sell books because I would inevitably slip up and make myself look silly.

I’m getting off topic. Charlotte – fun to write.  But how could I write about all these dangerous situations Charlotte finds herself in?

Research. And research for me means watching movies and T.V shows!

I scrutinized and analyzed every movie, every television show I watched for moves I could use for Charlotte. I re-watched episodes of Alias and Buffy the Vampire Slayer; both Buffy and Sydney Bristow were my inspiration. I watched the fight scene in Fast and Furious 7 between Lettie and the female guard countless times. Writing fight scenes are like choreographing a dance. Your hand goes here; your foot goes here. Could someone actually pick you up like that? Is this even possible?

And I dug deep into my imagination for scenes of excitement. Like the helicopter scene. Why wouldn’t you have a character base jump from a helicopter onto a hotel, than zipline across to the neighbouring building instead of having her simply walk through the lobby?!

Writing action scenes was something I’d never done before. I guess I did have a fight in Coming Home but adding in fists and flips and body-slamming is a little different. And again – so much fun!

I’ve enjoyed myself so much that I’ve already started writing the next book, a sequel to The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd!

About the Author

Holly Kerr writes chick-lit with a twist. No broody men, no obsessions with shoes, just fun stories about strong women going after what they want.

Her books include Coming Home, Unexpecting and Absinthe Doesn’t Make the Heart Grow Fonder and her latest, The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd.

If you require more information about Holly and her books (and she really hope you do because that was her whole reason for setting up this page!) feel free to visit her website
or follow her Blog. At times she discusses the craft of writing but usually she muses about her life and what’s she reading, writing or watching. Following her blog would be a great way to make Holly happy.

Holly hopes you enjoy her books and she welcomes a chance to interact with her fans, but not in any creepy way. A simple comment “Hey, I really like/don’t like…” would be a lovely way to begin a conversation.

You can find out more about Holly on her blog.

You can purchase The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd on Amazon.

 

Today’s Featured Author: Sue Parritt

Today I welcome Australian author Sue Parritt to my blog. Please enjoy her guest post about writing her book Sannah and the Pilgrim.

Guest Post

Set in twenty-fourth century apartheid Australia, ‘Sannah and the Pilgrim’ is a tale of courage defiance and deceit as a group of women risk their lives to undermine an oppressive regime. The women gain unexpected support for seditious exploits when Sannah, the village Storyteller, finds a stranger (Kaire, who insists he’s a pilgrim) on her domestep. But when Sannah turns ‘Truth-teller’ even Kaire’s white privilege and advanced technology cannot save her from subsequent retribution.

What inspired me to write my book?

Anger, abhorrence and disbelief motivated me to write ‘Sannah and the Pilgrim.’  I was and remain, appalled by past and present Australian governments’ policy on refugees and asylum seekers. News bulletins and current affairs programmes helped fuel my deep concerns about the direction our country is heading. From a country that welcomed scores of displaced people after the Second World War, we are becoming xenophobic, rejecting those that have fled what for most of us are inconceivable terrors. As a migrant myself, I tried to imagine how I would have felt, if instead of paying my ten pounds and travelling here on an ocean liner, I had been forced to flee my homeland, hand over my life’s savings to greedy people smugglers and risk my life by boarding a leaky overcrowded boat.

My thoughts then turned to a different category of refugees, those we can expect in the not so distant future. Low-lying Pacific islands are already under threat from accelerating climate change, about which wealthy first-world countries have so far failed to act. Soon there will be a flood of environmental refugees seeking a safe haven in our sparsely populated and prosperous nation. How will our government react then, turning back the boats won’t be an option?

I felt my option as a fiction writer was to draw on contemporary government policies regarding refugees and climate change to create a portrait of a future Australia that is, to my mind, entirely possible. The idea to divide the country into zones according to race of origin came from a thinly veiled proposal made by an ultra-conservative politician some years ago. Research into climate change led me to place my characters in the most inhospitable part of twenty-forth century Australia, the extremely hot, humid and disease-ridden north. Confined to the Brown Zone, the descendants of Pacific environmental refugees, are forced to cultivate the remaining fertile coastal strip to produce food for White Southerners, whose zone, although more suitable for human habitation being hot and dry, is too arid to support agriculture.

I was inspired to create the role of Storyteller for my protagonist, Sannah, by the manner in which information is often distorted by both the media and government in order to provoke certain reactions. For example: fears of being swamped by refugees are intensified by using terms such as ‘illegals’ and concerns over rising utility costs assuaged by promises to repeal the Carbon tax. Sannah’s people are kept in ignorance through a steady diet of Tales (a weird blend of historical fact and fiction) delivered by government-trained storytellers. In similar fashion, we are fed only what governments and multi-national companies want us to hear and it takes a great deal of effort to uncover the truth. Lies ensure compliance in both twenty-first and twenty-forth century Australia.

Book Blurb

Sannah-BC-frontWhen Sannah the Storyteller, a descendant of environmental refugees from drowned Pacific islands, finds a White stranger on her domestep, she presumes he’s a political prisoner on the run seeking safe passage to egalitarian Aotearoa. However, Kaire’s unusual appearance, bizarre behaviour, and insistence he’s a pilgrim suggest otherwise.

Appalled by apartheid Australia, Kaire uses his White privileges to procure vital information for Sannah and her group of activists regarding new desert prisons that are to be built to house all political prisoners. The group plans sabotage but needs help, and Kaire is a willing accomplice. But when Sannah turns Truthteller and threatens to reveal the country’s true history, even Kaire’s White privilege and advanced technology cannot save Sannah and her daughter from retribution.

Author Bio

Sue Parritt is an Australian writer, originally from England. Her poetry and short stories have been published in magazines and anthologies in Australia, Britain and the US. After graduating B.A. University of Queensland 1982 (majors: English Literature, Drama and French), Sue worked in university libraries until taking early retirement in 2008 to pursue her long-held dream of becoming a professional writer.  Since then she has written ‘Sannah and the Pilgrim,’ numerous short stories and poems and ‘Feed Thy Enemy’ a feature film script set in Naples in 1944 and 1974 based on a true story (Sue is currently seeking a producer). She recently completed a second novel ‘Safety Zone’ and is now writing a sequel to ‘Sannah and the Pilgrim’ – working title ‘Pia and the Skyman.’

You can find out more about Sue on her website.

Sannah and the Pilgrim is available from Amazon and Odyssey Books.

Today’s Featured Author: Maris Morton

Today I welcome author Maris Morton to my blog. Her book, The Sea Bird’s Egg, will come out later this year as well Small Crimes and Bad Behaviour, a collection of short stories.

Guest Post

The world where I set my mystery stories is essentially a domestic one, with credible characters going about their lives in (mostly) rural settings in Australia’s largest state, Western Australia.

I’ve come to fiction writing later in life than most aspiring novelists do, after working in jobs ranging from being the director of a public art gallery and Keeper of the Paintings (splendidly old-fashioned title, isn’t it!) at a State gallery, art restorer and exhibiting artist; clerical work in the public service; cooking for shearers and laboring as a shed hand on farms; teaching high school English, and English as a second language to Christmas and Cocos Islanders who had been resettled in the town where I lived; cooking in an old peoples’ home; and some journalism, broadcasting  and PR work. I’ve also dabbled in the alternative lifestyle, with a small acreage where I raised fruit, vegetables, poultry, a few sheep, pigs and goats, and two horses — not all at once, I hasten to add! As well as all that, I’ve been married and raised three children, some of the time as a single parent.  Now I live on the other side of the continent from my old home town in glorious sub-tropical rainforest, where I still grow fruit and vegies and have chickens, and listen to the songs of the myriad wild birds that inhabit the treetops around me.

This wealth of experience has given me plenty to write about, and now that I’ve started I can’t see myself giving it up.

As a lifelong devotee of crime and mystery fiction it was inevitable that this was the genre that I would choose for my first attempts at fiction writing. I started out aiming to write a conventional, and probably predictable, crime story, but of course the whole thing got out of hand and developed into something else as I became involved with my characters. I set out to entertain my readers, not to impress them with my literary skills.

After the usual disheartening string of rejections from publishers, I was amazed and delighted when the MS of my novel A Darker Music won the inaugural CAL/Scribe Fiction Prize and was published by Scribe in 2011. The crime in this one is a subtle matter of cruelty and indifference rather than a murder. A more conventional crime/romance is The Herb Gardener, published in 2014 by Odyssey Books. Both tales are set on farms in WA and give different pictures of farming life there.

What interests me most is the way people who are outwardly perfectly ordinary, law-abiding citizens can, when goaded by circumstances, do very bad things. I’m not interested in writing about serial killers, international or corporate crime: other people are already tackling all that, some of them brilliantly. I’m more concerned with what happens behind closed doors, in peoples’ homes. After all, that’s where all of us spend a good deal of our time; much of it important time. I believe that it’s vitally important that my readers feel they can connect with my characters, and the places where these characters live and play out their dramas are realistically-enough drawn that readers can imagine themselves there. So far, the feedback I’ve been getting indicates that I’m managing this pretty well.

In 2015, look out for The Sea Bird’s Egg (which also includes a murder, and exploits my interest in the art world) and a collection of my short stories, titled Small Crimes and Bad Behaviour, to be published mid-year by Port Yonder Press, Iowa. At present I’m working on a story based on my experience of working in an old peoples’ home in a country town; its title is Meadowcroft.

About the Author

mm 1Maris Morton came to writing late, with her prize-winning debut novel, A Darker Music, published after she had accumulated experience in jobs ranging from cooking for shearers, teaching, the public service, arts administration, finally retiring as the director of a public art gallery in 1999.

Two decades of living in country Western Australia has provided the background for much of her writing. At present, she lives among the rainforests of northern New South Wales, working on a new novel to the accompaniment of a symphony of birdsong.

Her books are available in print or e-book format from Amazon, The Book Depository or direct from the relevant publishers. You can learn more about her and her writing from her website.

Today’s Featured Author: Jennifer Gilby Roberts

Today, I welcome author Jennifer Gilby Roberts to my blog.

Guest Post: Why Didn’t You Write This as a Memoir?

Early-Daze-Cover-to-match-pWriters are usually advised to write what they know.  When considering what I knew about that most people didn’t, the experience of having a premature baby was one of the first things that came to mind.  The result, Early Daze, is closely based on my own experience.  In the book, Jess’ baby Samantha is essentially my daughter.  I made only minor alterations to her week-by-week progression.  But Jess isn’t me.  Why?

The first reason is that my life isn’t really that interesting!  Books need conflict and my life didn’t have any worth writing about.  Writing it as fiction allowed me to enrich the story with subplots.  Jess has a fiancé she’s having doubts about, a mother and sister pressuring her to scuttle down the aisle as soon as possible, friends who can’t face what she’s going through and a crush on one of the other NICU parents that she’s not sure what to do about.  To balance this, I brought in some other NICU mothers to support her.  I really wish I’d had a Gwen with me, I can tell you!

The second reason for not doing a memoir is the question of appeal.  I really hope that this book is read by a lot of people, whether they buy, borrow or download it free.  Few expectant mothers imagine they will give birth early, but it’s a lot more common than you think.  And it doesn’t just happen to “high risk” mothers.  One third of premature births are unexplained, which means that everything can seem to be going perfectly… until it isn’t.  That’s what happened to me.  I’d like everyone who might have children – or just know someone who will – to see that this might happen, but that it isn’t a hopeless situation.  I’ve tried to be honest in the book about what happens and about the crazy mixed up feelings that result, so that readers can better understand it.

I think the major benefit of fiction based on real experience to readers is that it’s authentic.  It’s not researched, it’s lived.  There are things that it’s hard to find out by talking to people who’ve been through something, because often people don’t tell you about the feelings and thoughts that they’re ashamed of.  The nicest compliment I’ve had from a reader was that Early Daze validated everything she felt when she went through a similar experience and left her feeling wonderful.  And in my book, even when delving into a serious subject, that’s the most important thing to do as a writer.

Early Daze is available for Kindle and in paperback on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.  The paperback is also available from Barnes & Noble.

jennifer robertsJennifer Gilby Roberts has a degree in physics and a postgraduate certificate in computing, so a career writing fiction was inevitable really. She was born and grew up in Surrey/Greater London, but now lives in North Yorkshire with her husband, small daughter, two middle-aged cats and a lot of dust bunnies.

Find Jennifer at her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, LibraryThing, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.