29 August 2014

Book Launch Guest Post ~ The 49th Day, by Helen Noble


The second novel from Helen Noble and the first in a forthcoming trilogy,
The 49th Day is a contemporary romance with undertones of medieval history and a spiritual twist, woven with ancient Welsh mythology and timeless Irish humour.
Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

Have you ever asked yourself why you to chose to be some place in preference to others? Why you feel drawn to gaze at certain landscapes, to explore the hills and dales of your seemingly random choice of homeland or holiday destination? It’s the same with writing. I find myself compelled to write for reasons often beyond my initial comprehension. I love the obvious signposts which crop up along the way, as much as the mysterious concealed entrances, which become apparent only when you turn the corner. 

For me, research and imagination play an equally important role in the construction of a story, adding both the roots of reality and the branches of possibility. The reason for the telling of the tale becomes apparent along the way. The 49th Day is one such book.

I was nine years old when I first fell under the spell of a Norman Castle. I gasped at the grandeur of its towers and ramparts and became excited by the echoes in the vaulted ceiling of it Grand Hall. This was another world; I was entranced. At school we learned about Welsh history, its ancient customs and battles and the new ideas that washed over and soaked in with the waves of invasion from the Vikings, the Flemish and the Normans. With the exception of the anti-toll road rebels known as the ‘Rebecca’ rioters, which were actually men dressed as women, there seemed little in the way of Welsh leading lady figures in our country‘s history.
This is not to suggest that women of Welsh descent are by any means of the shy and retiring ilk. Indeed the name of Jemima Nicholas of Fishguard, who is said, with aid of one pitchfork, to have apprehended twelve French soldiers at the reputed last attempted invasion of Britain, should, singlehandedly quash any such notions. Generally speaking the names of famous female historical figures tended to be synonymous with their roles as wives, mothers and/or mistresses of notable men.
Whilst researching the Medieval history of Wales for 'The 49th Day.' my imagination was captured by one notable female. Princess Nest, daughter of the last King of South Wales, Rhys ap Tewdwr; and also known rather notoriously as the ‘Helen of Wales’. Despite the disparities in varying accounts and disputes amidst historians as to the truth, her story is one of privilege, bravery, lust, scandal and survival; one example I would love to have absorbed as a school girl.
So what is it about historical and mythological characters that speak to our souls, through stories and songs, paintings and tapestries? Is it the collective conscious at work? Are timeless elements of human experience constantly alive within us all? Is that how we recognise ourselves in others, all rooting for the same outcomes to our common desires? Despite our contemporary living arrangements and technological advances, are we essentially, at a biological level, driven by the same desires as we were a thousand years ago?
Love, betrayal, abandonment, the joy of children and the pain of loss; are not these the ‘things’ that touch us all, shaping our lives, forging our futures? Are we still happy with such fundamental notions? Is contemporary love any greater than that fought over, won, or surrendered by our ancestors? If only one could wander back in time to watch over their woes and witness the worship within those walls.
Helen Noble
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About the Author 
Helen Noble is a director of a legal practice, and a psychology graduate experienced in working with people in difficult circumstances. A mother of three, she developed a love for creative writing in her own childhood, publishing her first short story (under a pen name) in a magazine at the age of 19. Following her early success in publishing, Helen found that whilst raising her children and earning a living the time and space for creative writing became a rare luxury. However, the inexorable forces of change seem to have finally conspired to afford her the insight, experience and opportunity to pursue her passion. Tears of a Phoenixher debut novel, was published by Soul Rocks Books in 2012. The 49th Day is her second novel, and she also has a new collection of short stories entitled Scorpio Moons. Helen is currently working on her third novel. Find Helen on Twitter @welshmermaid

Book Launch Interview with Donna Galanti, Author of A Hidden Element


Evil lurks within…

When Caleb Madroc is used against his will as part of his father’s plan to breed a secret community and infiltrate society with their unique powers, he vows to save his oppressed people and the two children kept from him. Seven years later, Laura and Ben Fieldstone’s son is abducted, and they are forced to trust a madman’s son who puts his life on the line to save them all. The enemy’s desire to own them—or destroy them—leads to a survival showdown. Laura and Ben must risk everything to defeat a new nemesis that wants to rule the world with their son, and Caleb may be their only hope—if he survives. But must he sacrifice what he most desires to do so?


PRAISE FOR A HIDDEN ELEMENT:

"Chilling and dark…a twisty journey into another world." —J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of When Shadows Fall

"Fascinating…a haunting story…"—Rebecca Cantrell, New York Times bestselling author of The World Beneath

"Will keep you up long past your bedtime...a pulse-pounding read."—Allan Leverone, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Final Vector

Purchase Book 2 in the Element Trilogy, A Hidden Element: http://amzn.to/1zjpIjM


Purchase Book 1 in the Element Trilogy, A Human Element: http://amzn.to/1mNcyCO
ON SALE NOW FOR JUST $.99cents!


Author Interview

It is a real privilege to have Donna Galanti back on my blog - here I talk to her about her newest novel:

What’s inside the mind of a suspense author?

Never ending dialogue. Scenes of evil doers and people in peril. Tormented villains getting revenge, and then their comeuppance. Steamy lovers in a survival showdown. Yep, it’s generally dark in there full of murder, mystery, and mayhem! Then add a dash of hope and humanity alongside a love for creating psychopathic melee and you’ve got a brew for one wild ride.

How do you keep your narrative exciting throughout the creation of a novel?

I look at each chapter as a short story in itself. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end – and I love ending my chapters on cliffhangers that raise a question and (hopefully) beg the reader to keep turning the pages. I also try to set the mood and provide a suspense setting that creates feelings of heightened anxiety and give the reader the portent of doom. The setting of a scene can make a large impact on its mood using sensory details to build on those feelings–a sudden wind, a stormy sky, a rising stench, a jarring noise.

Here’s an example of how I aimed for this in A Hidden Element:

She drew on her robe and looked out the tiny window. A fierce wind whipped the trees. Gray sky hung heavy like a blanket waiting to smother her. The promise of Indian summer had been snatched fast by winter calling. The weather was tormented here as well, conflicted over who it obeyed—and unable to escape its master’s bonds.

How does this scene make you feel? Tense, scared, or anxious that something bad is coming? You are right!
A Hidden Element has paranormal elements to it involving mind control, mind reading, and telekinesis. Tell us what inspired you to write a novel about this.

I am fascinated by the power of the brain and how little we use. We are not even close to tapping our potential of brainpower. Writing in the paranormal allows me to tap into the “what if”. What if we possessed the power to do the unbelievable? Like telepathy, telekinesis. And what if we could use those powers to heal – or to kill? Some people like to imagine that aliens would have such power, as eluded to in A Hidden Element, but what if it was inside us all along and we just had to tap into it?

What makes a good paranormal suspense novel?

As a subgenre of suspense, a well-crafted paranormal novel (for me) can include elements that range beyond scientific explanation and blend other genres together such as fantasy, horror, and science fiction. The fantastic thing about writing paranormal is that there are so many avenues of paranormal to write about including psychic powers (my favorite!) or ghosts, time travel, or vampires.

How do you know when you’ve “made it” as an author?

My first made-it-moment is a private one. The death of my mother propelled me to finally write the novel I always wanted to write. I did it through grief without looking back. Writing The End was a private made-it-moment for me. Connected to this was the defining public made-it-moment when praising reviews started rolling in for my debut novel, A Human Element – and they were by unbiased strangers! I continue to be amazed that people I don’t know like my book and have been as touched by my characters as I am. My mom drove my made-it-moment of writing the novel I always knew I had inside me to the made-it-moment of knowing I had written something that touched others. I hope I can do it again.

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About the Author

Donna Galanti writes murder and mystery with a dash of steam as well as middle grade adventure fiction. She is the author of books 1 and 2 in the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy, A Human Element and A Hidden Element, the short story collection The Dark Inside, and Joshua and The Lightning Road (Books 1 and 2, 2015). She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. She now lives in Pennsylvania with her family in an old farmhouse. It has lots of writing nooks, fireplaces, and stink bugs, but she’s still wishing for a castle again—preferably with ghosts. Find out more at Donna's website: www.ElementTrilogy.com and visit her blog http://www.elementtrilogy.com/blog/. You can find her on Twitter @DonnaGalanti as well as Facebook and Goodreads

28 August 2014

Guest Post ~ Turning-Point, by Calvin Hedley


Matthew Pelham’s disappearance, while flying an RAF Harrier, can only
be explained through investigations conducted some forty years apart.
The quest involves wartime intelligence services, high politics in the
Third Reich and beleaguered Britain, and has incalculable implications
for the war’s course and future events.

Available on Kindle at Amazon US and Amazon UK
also in paperback

Tony Riches has kindly extended this opportunity for me to introduce myself and my writing.  I’ve been interested in creative writing for many years and have had some publishing and competition success.  I concentrate mainly on novel-writing now, and my first completed novel, Turning-Point, is now released on Kindle and CreateSpace.  I’ve begun a second novel with the working title of Zigzag, and I am putting together an anthology of short stories, and am developing other projects, including tentative ideas re a follow-up to Turning-Point.

Writers employ many different methods when working; there’s no ‘correct’ process.  In short, what works for each individual is right.  As a blind author with no sight at all, the same rule applies to me.  Obviously, pen and paper are not appropriate, nor do I use a Dictaphone or other recording device much.  I overwhelmingly depend on special screen-reader software, which ‘reads’ screen activity as it occurs on my computer system.  This verbal feedback allows me to type, read, reread, edit, and organise my work.  Indeed, somewhat perversely, the screen-reader’s proven to be a very accurate proofreader, as a sentence that sounds wrong usually is wrong in one way or another.  So, through using keystrokes and touch-typing, I can run at around 80 words a minute once I’ve got a head of steam up, and some of the words actually make sense too, which is a bonus.

I’m less proficient on the Net than within the confines of Microsoft Office, but the screen-reader nevertheless enables me to carry out virtually all my research, and it can work with some CD-ROM applications too.  I did find the involved process of turning a Word file into an e-book entirely beyond my capacity, but with help from Tony and Douglas Burcham, the journey’s now complete, and I offer them my very grateful thanks.

Turning-Point is a split-time mystery thriller.  The plot concerns the unexplained disappearance of an RAF pilot in 1979.  Investigations, conducted against the backdrops of the Battle of Britain in 1940 and the Falklands Crisis in 1982, piece together a temporal jigsaw that includes British and German wartime intelligence agencies, high politics in the Reich and Britain, war policy on both sides of the Channel, assassinations, and a photo depicting a seemingly impossible image, delivered by a complete stranger who is a mystery in himself.  But after more than four decades, why is MI5 still interested?  What can a grieving father and daughter achieve for a missing son and brother, and can they gain ‘closure’?  And what tantalising possibilities does the mystery still offer for Britain in the future?

Calvin Hedley
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About the Author

Calvin Hedley has been partially sighted since birth and became registered blind in 1982. He lost all useful sight in 1997 yet continues to pursue his writing career. Calvin read History and Politics at Warwick University and lives in Coventry with his wife Denise.  Find out more at 

Guest Post ~ Close to the Sun, by Donald Michael Platt


Available on Amazon US and Amazon UK

I have loved reading about History since first memory and later immersing myself in Historical Fiction by age eight. If I saw a swashbuckler film first, I wanted to read the book it was based on and non-fiction to learn how much was true. No Tom Sawyer for me, I preferred Mark Twain’s Prince and the Pauper and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, both of which were made into films.

My novel Close to the Sun follows the lives of two Americans and a German from childhood through the end of WWII. As boys, they idealize the exploits of WWI fighter aces known as chivalrous Knights of the Skies.

Hank Milroy from Wyoming learns his first flying lessons from observing falcons. Karl, Fürst von Pfalz-Teuffelreich, aspires to surpass his father’s 49 Luftsiegen accumulated during WWI. Seth Braham falls in love with flying during an air show at San Francisco’s Chrissy Field. The young men meet exceptional women. Texas tomboy Catherine “Winty” McCabe believes she is as good a flyer as any man. Princess Maria-Xenia, a stateless White Russian, works for the Abwehr, German intelligence. Elfriede “Elfi” Wohlmann is a frontline nurse. Mimi Kay sings with a big band.

Flying fighters over Europe, Hank, Karl, and Seth experience the exhilaration of aerial combat victories and acedom during the unromantic reality of combat losses, tedious bomber escort, strafing runs, and firebombing of entire cities. Callous political decisions and military mistakes add to their disillusion, especially one horrific tragedy at the end of the war.

Why did I write Close to the Sun? A sentient boy during WWII, I admired the fighter aces and their sleek planes. Over time I was given access to many documents from both the Allies and the Axis, and I met and conversed with aces from the USAAF, the RAF, and the Luftwaffe. A novel formed in my mind and I sat down to write.

I wanted to create a fictional USAAF fighter group and its squadrons for my fictional composite American characters against a realistic background. It took some time to find numbers that had not been used. For the Luftwaffe, I chose to use historical unit and bases.

My next challenge was to create composite characters. I wanted the two Americans to represent country and city, with a secondary character who had all the negative traits of certain fighter aces. I found it easier for purposes of the novel to make the Luftwaffe ace an aristocrat. The history of the air war over Europe carried the narrative.

I did not want Close to the Sun to be an all-male story, so I added four female characters. Winty McCabe was easy to create because she was the embodiment of all women who wanted to fly and who served as a WASP, Women’s Airforce Service Pilot. A Russian princess who worked with the anti-Nazi faction in the Abwehr, German Intelligence, gave me the inspiration for Mariya-Xenia. Given that some U.S. fighter aces wed actresses and big band singers, after a while I came up with the singer streetwise Mimi Kay. Last of all, I added Elfie, a German combat nurse for purposes of story.

My publisher has asked me for a sequel to Close to the Sun, which I have begun, and many more HF novels have been written in my mind.

Donald Michael Platt

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About the Author

Donald Michael Platt is the author of four other novels, ROCAMORA, HOUSE OF ROCAMORA, A GATHERING OF VULTURES, and CLOSE TO THE SUN, Donald Michael Platt was born and raised in San Francisco. Donald graduated from Lowell High School and received his B.A. in History from the University of California at Berkeley. After two years in the Army, Donald attended graduate school at San Jose State where he won a batch of literary awards in the annual SENATOR PHELAN LITERARY CONTEST. Donald moved to southern California to begin his professional writing career. He sold to the TV series, MR. NOVAK, ghosted for health food guru, Dan Dale Alexander, and wrote for and with diverse producers, among them as Harry Joe Brown, Sig Schlager, Albert J. Cohen, Al Ruddy plus Paul Stader Sr, Hollywood stuntman and stunt/2nd unit director. While in Hollywood, Donald taught Creative Writing and Advanced Placement European History at Fairfax High School where he was Social Studies Department Chairman.
After living in Florianópolis, Brazil, setting of his horror novel A GATHERING OF VULTURES, pub. 2007 & 2011, he moved to Florida where he wrote as a with: VITAMIN ENRICHED, pub.1999, for Carl DeSantis, founder of Rexall Sundown Vitamins; and THE COUPLE’S DISEASE, Finding a Cure for Your Lost “Love” Life, pub. 2002, for Lawrence S. Hakim, MD, FACS, Head of Sexual Dysfunction Unit at the Cleveland Clinic. Currently, Donald resides in Winter Haven, Florida where he is polishing a dark novel and preparing to write a sequel to CLOSE TO THE SUN. For more information please visit Donald Michael Platt’s website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter @donroc.

25 August 2014

Guest Post ~ The Diary of Nicholas Oldman, by Michael G Atkinson


Nicholas Oldman goes to bed after his fortieth birthday party, and
wakes to find himself alone and naked in a vast, sun-scorched desert. 
Taken away from his family and his friends, he must face a new life of
solitude in a world where man has never been.

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

‘What if?’ Those two little words have been a part of mankind’s evolutionary growth since the dawn of time. ‘What if?’ is the question which defines our ideas and actions (and mistakes), it is our way of questioning the world about us. But there are some ‘what if’s’ which simply cannot be answered, time-travel is one of them and being the only one of your kind is another. The idea of Nicholas Oldman came from such ‘what if’s?’

I have always had a passion for psychology, especially early development psychology, the way we grow and mature from infant to adult is quite amazing. We are blessed (or cursed as some would have it) with a very complex range of emotions, we are driven to all forms of glory and madness by them and are even able to influence the emotions of others just by being around them.  So, what if there was no one around to present your emotions to? Would we still be emotional in the same way as we perceive and use emotions today in our modern lives? I once had to dismantle my lawnmower and rebuild the engine, I was outside by myself, my daughter was at school and I had no visitors. Completely alone.

After struggling with a particularly stubborn bolt, I decided to use my hammer to chisel the thing around slowly and ended up whacking my knuckles quite hard.  With blood dripping down my hand and arm, I ran through to the kitchen to sort it out under the relief of the cold tap. And as I stood there bathing my wounded fingers, I realised I hadn’t said a single word, not one, single, tiny expletive or yell. Nothing. Now I am not suggesting that I am a complete ‘bucket mouth’ and would normally have turned the air blue, but I am pretty sure that had there been an audience, I would have made a right old fuss.

So, what if a man were to find himself as the only one of his kind in a place where man had yet to set foot? How would the emotions of such a man re-develop to cope with his ‘new world’? How would all of the hidden, primitive and dormant aspects of his mind deal with his situation? And more importantly, how would he evolve emotionally to cope with the loneliness, how would he deal with the need to express himself to his peers?

In Nicholas’ journey, I wanted to try and take us right out of our comfort zone and gives us a tiny insight into the ‘Nicholas’ inside of us all, that incredible drive we have which allows us to adapt so quickly to radical change. I can think of nothing more radical than being alone in prehistoric times.

 Michael G Atkinson

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About the Author

Michael Atkinson lives in Lincoln, UK. and works for a specialist cancer care hospice. He has written many short stories for an animation company and The Diary of Nicholas Oldman is his first.novel. Writing is at the top of Michael's list of interests and he plans to become an established author. He has recently started a blog at http://mgatkinson.wordpress.com/ and can be found on Facebook and Twitter

24 August 2014

Book Review ~ To Touch The Sun, by Laura Enright


Available on Amazon US and Amazon UK

I’m not usually a fan of vampire novels, so they have to be a bit different to hold my attention. To Touch The Sun, by Laura Enright was different. I liked the linking back to the horrors of the First World War – and the pseudo-science I was almost starting to believe.

Adding a clever twist to all the popular vampire legends, Laura shows how even a well-worn genre can still carry a good story. I did find myself wondering how a vampire could become a successful chef without ever seeing the sun – or how scientists could so easily accept some really challenging ideas - but part of the fun of the genre is to not take itself too seriously.

Well paced, with plenty going on, I found this an easy and engaging read that kept me guessing. The door has of course been left open for a much needed sequel, as there are still many questions. Sleep well – and don’t have nightmares!  

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About the Author

Laura Enright is the author of "Chicago's Most Wanted™ The Top 10 Book of Murderous Mobsters, Midway Monsters, and Windy City Oddities" and "Vampires' Most Wanted The Top 10 Book of Bloodthirsty Biters, Stake-wielding Slayers, and Other Undead Oddities."  Youn can find out more about Laura's books on her website http://www.laura-enright.com/ and find her on Twitter @laura_enright

Guest Post ~ Hybrid publishing, by Ben Coles at Promontory Press

Hybrid publishing is a new movement in the world of books which is trying to fix some of the broken aspects of the traditional publishing world. Still very much traditional in most of its form, hybrid publishing maintains the same quality control and widespread sales and distribution the industry expects, but by adopting a more entrepreneurial model the hybrid publisher can be much more open to new authors. Ultimately, publishing is a business, and if the publisher doesn’t make money selling books, it can’t survive. What this means for a new, unknown author is that it is very hard to convince a publisher to take a financial risk on producing their book.

It’s always been tough to get picked up as a new author, but these days the publishing world has become so risk-averse that an unknown author has almost zero chance of convincing a publisher to take a big financial risk on them, no matter how good their book is. In the hybrid model, the author and publisher both make an investment in the book, sharing the financial risk and splitting the revenues much more evenly. The hybrid publisher only makes money if the book sells, and therefore the goals of author and publisher are completely aligned.

This is the critical difference between a hybrid publisher and a vanity press. A vanity press (or self-publisher) makes all its money on the fees the author pays up front – selling the book is irrelevant to their business model. The money an author pays a hybrid publisher, however, is only a portion of the costs that the hybrid publisher takes on to produce, sell and market the book. The hybrid publisher MUST sell a lot of copies of the book in order to turn a profit. The author’s investment reduces that initial risk, but doesn’t eliminate it. In the hybrid model, both publisher and author make money only by selling books.

At Promontory Press, we’re always looking for new authors who have something significant to say. We meet authors at every stage of their writing, but the earlier in the process we meet the better. If the author comes to us with an idea or an early draft, we as a team can assess both the quality of writing and the market potential of the book, giving the author a clear sense of what will be required to get the book ready both for publication and for the essential marketing support that every author has to give their book.
Our decision to offer a contract to the author is based on several key factors, all of which all discussed openly with the author:
  1. The market potential of the book – do we think that the audience for this particular book is large enough and accessible enough to earn a big enough return for both Promontory and the author?
  2. The quality of writing – what skill level does the author bring and how much work will be required to get the manuscript ready?
  3. The mindset of the author – does the author want to maintain 100% control, is the author willing to get involved in marketing, will the author commit financial resources to supporting their book? 
At Promontory each one of our authors is part of a close-knit team, and if the author isn’t willing to be a team player then it’s probably best if they seek another avenue to publication. When we do take a manuscript on, our team of experts gets fully involved. Every book is fully edited for content, style and structure long before we address the details of proof-reading. Every book has a cover and title designed with the full input of our marketing department.

Every book is printed to the highest quality, on recycled paper wherever possible, and while we rarely used POD, we still keep our inventories lean. Every book is personally pitched by our sales team to the national buyers at all the major American and Canadian bookstores and wholesalers (Barnes & Noble, Chapters-Indigo, Baker & Taylor, etc.)  as well as to the independent bookstores. And finally, every book has a custom marketing plan that is implemented by our marketing team with the author as a trained member.

If an aspiring author is considering the hybrid model of publishing, here are some key questions to consider:
  1. Am I willing to have my book changed if the professionals advise it?
  2. Am I willing to get actively involved in marketing if I’m trained on how to do so?
  3. Am I willing to make a financial investment in my book if I know what the potential returns and timelines are? 
If the answer to all three of these is yes, hybrid might be a good fit. If the answer is yes to the first two but no to the third, traditional publishing might be the best bet. Conversely, if the answer is no to the first question and yes to the others, self-publishing might be the ideal route. Each author needs to honestly consider his or her own strengths and weaknesses, and decide which path is the best fit. In every case, however, bringing a highly-developed writing skill and a marketable idea are the keys to success – no model of publishing will ever change that.

Bennett R. Coles
Publisher, Promontory Press
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About the Author

Bennett R. Coles lives in Victoria, Canada with his lovely wife, two boisterous sons, and one demanding cat. He served 15 years as a officer in the Royal Canadian Navy and worked in international business while he built his career as an author and, somehow, a publisher. You can learn about his first two books at www.bennettrcoles.com, although you won't be able to read a copy of either until they are re-released by Titan Books of London in 2015. Follow him on Twitter @PromontoryPress and Google+  +Promontory Press 

20 August 2014

Special Guest Post ~ Tell The Girl by Sandra Howard

                                                                             

Weaving together a fascinating past and a present full of emotional turmoil, Sandra Howard draws us into a world she knew so well,
of glamour, style and high society, but where, below the surface
extravagence, insecurity and infidelity run rife.

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

I had some unique experiences and wild old times in the Sixties that had cried out to be told, but what always put me off was the thought of writing an autobiography. It felt too self-serving and embarrassing by half. I’d have felt very inhibited, trailing out my whole life for inspection, and left out all the juiciest bits, which would have made for a much drearier read. So I decided to write my stories of the sixties as fiction.

Tell the Girl draws heavily on personal experiences, real people are mentioned, some historical events and true situations too, but the principal characters are fictional. Susannah Forbes, my heroine, relives her past, her Sixties heydays that in many ways mirror my own, but she isn’t me. She’s a whole lot more successful for one thing, more glamorous, better looking, better legs…  need I go on?

Writing fiction gives you the freedom to think outside the box, unleash private feelings and let rip. I love getting to know my characters, watching them grow and develop, often in ways I’d never have anticipated. I love the way they take me over and rule my life, how they lead me by the hand down unexpected paths; writing fiction is always a roller-coaster ride of surprises.

Tell The Girl is set both in the sixties and the present day with Susannah as a girl in her twenties and as a much older woman. And with Daisy, the other principal character, a woman in her late thirties, I had the chance to write about three ages of women, their innermost fears and longings, where they were at different stages of their lives.

Researching the Sixties was a revelation too, how it reawakened old memories and brought back the wildness of the times, the racy fun and whacky goings on, the excesses of smoking and boozing, all the liberties taken… The ad-men of Madison Avenue were straight out of MadMen, pouncing almost before you were in the door. But they were never as drop-dead gorgeous and sexy as Don Draper, no such luck.

Writing novels is addictive. There are worse ways to spend a cold wet Monday morning than writing a sexy love scene, but I’m lured up to my stuffy little study at the top of the house on the sunniest of days as well. I love nothing better than to be alone with my characters, no one about, no calls or callers, it’s bliss. I urge anyone to have a go!

Sandra Howard
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About The Author

Sandra Howard (nee Paul) was one of the leading fashion models of the 1960s, appearing on the cover of American Vogue two months running. She worked as a freelance journalist alongside modelling, before turning to novel writing. She continues to write regularly for the press. Her novels, Glass Houses, Ursula's Story, A Matter of LoyaltyEx-Wives and Tell the Girl are available in paperback and ebook. Sandra is actively involved with two national charities as a trustee of Addaction, a charity helping people to fight drug and alcohol addiction, and as Vice President of Youth Epilepsy. Sandra also supports First Story, a charity that provides funds to enable well-known writers to hold creative writing classes in inner city schools. She has three adult children: Sholto, Nick and Larissa, and is married to the former British Conservative Party Leader Michael Howard. They live in London and Kent. Find out more at Sandra's website www.sandrahoward.co.uk and follow her on Twitter @howardsandrac

18 August 2014

The I-Don’t-Have-Any-Time Hour-a-Day Book Marketing Plan, by John Kramer

Here’s my I-Don’t-Have-Any-Time Hour-a-Day Book Marketing Plan:  Do one thing a day. Focus on creating relationships with high-traffic targeted websites (targeted to your audience or your topic). That’s it.

Week 1: Research

Each day this week, do some research to find at least one high-traffic targeted website related to your book’s topic. If, while writing your book, you’ve already discovered some such websites, find more of them. The more, the merrier. Or ask your friends what websites they like to visit or spend time on. What websites related to the topic of your book do they like to visit?. Or use Bing or Google to search for such websites and blogs. Ignore the Amazon, Wikipedia, and similar pages (unless, for example, you have a reference to your website on Wikipedia).

Most of these larger sites don’t really let you interact very well with the people behind the sites. Nonetheless, you can complete your Author Connect page on Amazon, make sure your book descriptions are actually selling your book, etc. Similarly, you can ask a friend who is an active editor on Wikipedia to create a Wikipedia page for you or your book. If they can’t create a page for you, ask them to cite your book or you as a resource in the listings of relevant topic pages within Wikipedia.

For the most part, though, you want to go for high-traffic targeted websites that already reach the audience you want to reach. Go for the websites that often use outside content (articles, reviews, interviews, Q&A, etc.), especially those that feature other authors and related books.

Time to carry out this task: 1 to 2 hours per day.

Week 2: Follow the Links

Most websites have links to other related websites and blogs. These links are often at the end of articles, on resource pages, on blogrolls, on directory pages, etc. Follow those links to discover other high-traffic targeted websites for your book, your topic, or your audience. Track down at least one new related high-traffic targeted website each day this week. In week 1, you discovered some high-traffic targeted websites. During this week, you’ll discover many more related high-traffic targeted websites.

Time to carry out this task: less than 1 hour per day.

Week 3: Locate the People Behind the Sites

Now take one website per day that you’ve uncovered and dig through the website until you find out who edits the website, blogs on the blog, or writes a column on the site that would be appropriate for your book. Try to find out their email address or phone number or other contact information.

Also note their Twitter handle, Facebook Page, Google+ profile, Pinterest boards, LinkedIn profile, and any other social networks they are on that you enjoy using (YouTube, GoodReads, Instagram, etc.).
By the end of Week 3, you should have the following information for at least seven high-traffic targeted websites: name of website, URL for that website, phone number and/or email address for one key contact, their social profile URLS.

Time to carry out this task: less than 1 hour per day.

Week 4: Connect with People

Each day, go to the websites you identified during Week 3. Comment on one of the articles or blog posts written by the person you want to connect with. Tweet their article. Like it or share it on Facebook. Pin their article or blog post on one of your Pinterest boards. Plus One their article or share it on Google+. Share it on LinkedIn. Blog about their article.

Also carry out a few of the following acts connected to their social profiles: Retweet their tweets. Favorite their tweets. Respond to one of their tweets. Like their Facebook posts. Comment on their Facebook posts. Share their Facebook posts. Like one of their pins. Comment on one of their pins. Repin one of their pins.
Comment on one of their LinkedIn posts. Do the same for Google+ and any other social network you share with them.

Each day this week, repeat and rinse. Spread out your comments and interactions over this week so the person gets to know you before you make your offer during Week 5. During this week, connect with 5 to 7 influential people every day via their content and their social networks.

Time to carry out this task: 1 to 2 hours each day (if you don’t lollygag on the social networks).

Week 5: Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse

Contact the people you identified during week 3 and offer them some great content. Note: High-traffic targeted websites love new content that targets their daily visitors. They need new content every day to keep traffic (visitors) flowing to their websites. Offer to write an article for them. Offer them an excerpt from your book that they can reprint on their website. Offer to do an interview with them (where they interview you): an Internet radio show, podcast, teleseminar, webinar, Skype interview, Google Hangout, or even a written Q&A interview. Ask if you can interview them for your blog. Offer them a review copy of your book.

Or think even bigger: Ask them if you could do a Q&A column for their website on a specific topic related to your book and/or expertise. If your topic is general, try to drill down to a specific topic that you could do a Q&A column on. Make this offer via a short email note or via a phone call. If calling, be sure to have an already prepared two- or three-sentence message you can leave if you get their answering machine. Be sure to start with your name, title of your book, and your phone number. Then leave a short pitch. A real short pitch.

Time to carry out this task: less than 1 hour each day. Write the email and send it. Or write the answering machine script, pick up the phone, and make the call.

Week 6: Respond Right Away

When they respond to your email or phone call with a positive request to see more or hear more, send them more. If they ask questions, respond to those questions. If they ask to see your blog post, write a blog post. If they want to set up an interview, schedule an interview. Respond that same day.

Time to carry out this task: generally less than 1 hour per day.

Week 7: Follow Through

Once they’ve interviewed you, featured your blog post or article, assigned you an on-going Q&A column, or whatever, thank them. Then share the news on your blog and social networks. Spread the word about your connection. Be sure to link back to your content on their website.

If you share what they’ve done for you, you will send more traffic to their website. That’s the beginning of a real relationship, where you both share each other’s content. The sharing sets the table for you to ask for another feature a month or two later.

Time to carry out this task: generally less than 1 hour per day.

That’s my I-Don’t-Have-Any-Time Hour-a-Day Marketing Plan. Simple, isn’t it? Now, rinse and repeat. That means start at Week 1 again and follow each step. This strategy will reliably develop your relationships with other people who share your interests. It will get you more links to your website. It will get you more traffic to your website. It will generate more Google juice (a better ranking on Google search results, better page ranks, and more traffic sent your way). And it should generate more book sales.

Alert: Any content you share with other websites and blogs must be top-notch valuable content. That’s the only way you’ll get Google love. That’s the only way you’ll be invited back to share more content. That’s the only way you’ll develop fans of your own. And that’s the only way people will come to your website hungry for more content from you. And that’s the key reason people will buy your book.
Now, isn’t your book worth an hour a day?

John Kremer

(Re-blogged with permission from an original article on John Krarmer's website)

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About John Kremer

John Kremer is author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books, the Relationship Matters Marketing program, and many other books and reports on book marketing, Internet marketing, social media, and book publicity. For more information see John's websites http://www.bookmarket.com 
and http://www.bookmarketingbestsellers.com. You can also find John on Facebook and on Twitter @JohnKremer 

14 August 2014

Book Review ~ Renatus by Ryan Link


The United States is no more. Over the course of the early 22nd century, it has dissolved into a set of hostile splinter nations; some have prospered, some have not. But Aldon Prandtel doesn't care about any of that. Years ago he lost his family, descended into despair, and ended up living on the streets of northern St. Louis. Now, his only objectives are to stay alive.
What he doesn't know is that those in power have plans for him
that aim to shake the new world order . . . 

Available on Amazon US and Amazon UK

Renatus is one of those imaginative dystopian novellas that has you hooked from the start and leave you wanting more.  In Ryan Link’s bleak vision of the world a hundred years from now, a scientist lives on the dangerous city streets, addicted to a strange drug, until he is ‘rescued’ for a secret mission of national importance.

I enjoyed every minute of it, from the convincing technical details you would expect from an author with Ryan Link’s background, to the well observed characters. I even felt some sympathy for the men guarding our hero’s door, as each has a hint of back story that makes them real.

By the time I was half way through I was already speculating about who should be cast in a movie version. There is plenty of scope for ideas in this book to be developed in the future, so I look forward to seeing a sequel. If you are want something fast-paced and thought provoking, I recommend Renatus. 

Tony Riches 

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About the Author

Ryan Link is is a native Texan who lives in Houston with his wife of eleven years and their two chihuahuas. He works as a modeling and simulation analyst in the energy industry and holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Houston. Some of his favorite authors and influences are Frank Herbert, Alastair Reynolds, George R. R. Martin, and H. P. Lovecraft.  Ryan has published a number of short stories in addition to his novella and is currently working on a full-length science-fiction literary-style novel. Find out more at his website and find him on Facebook and Twitter: @RLinkAuthor