• Virtual Book Tour

    No Innocent Affair by Edward F. Mrkvicka Jr.

  • Science Fiction

    Renegades by Sara Mason

  • Inner City Strength by Dwight Slaughter

    Sometimes the game is all you have to save your life.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

VBT Pit Stop #2 with Vogue and Diamonds In The Rough

Please give a warm welcome to newly published author Vogue.  She has written "Diamonds In The Rough" ,  her first installment in The Diamond Collection.  Welcome Vogue and thank you so much for stopping in :).

1. What is needed for a story to be good?

In order for a story to be deemed as good, it must have a memorable character (s). A memorable character is one who has distinctive characteristics that allows the reader to relate to them. The character may remind the reader of someone they know. This makes the reader more drawn to the novel.

Just as important as the characters, there must be a plot that will generate the reader's attention. Twists in the plot help keep the reader on the edge of their seat. Most readers already have an idea of how they want the book to end. It seems as if the majority of the time, the book never ends the way the reader presumes. Some people like this, others don't. It depends on the reader.

In addition, a story must be able to teach a lesson. At the end of the book, the reader should be able to take something from the novel that they can apply to their own lives.

Also, originality is always a plus. There will always be books with similar storylines, but each book has something different about it. It is what makes the book stand out amongst the others on the shelf.

2. Till now how many books have you written?

In terms of books that have been published, there are only two. Diamonds in the Rough is available for pre-order through www.passionatewriterpublishing.com, while Diamonds are Forever, the sequel, has been accepted by my publisher. As far as unpublished works, I have written approximately twenty-one books.

Diamonds in the Rough and Diamonds are Forever are a part of a ten book series, collectively known as The Diamond Collection.
In high school, I wrote a series of five books entitled Urban Drama. Then, there were a few novellas: The Fair Fight, Backstage Love, The Caretaker, Sebastian, Black Reggae, and Enamorado. Unfortunately, I no longer have copies of these. I can remember what the books are about, but that is about it. Most of the books were lost when I made the transition from Greenville to Rock Hill, SC in 2003.

3. How much time do you take to finish a book?

When I am feeling comfortable with a story, I try to devote as much time to it as I can. A lot of times, I multitask. I spend, on average, between eight to nine hours a day working on a book. Even when I am at work, I carry around a notebook, which will allow me to write down ideas. Typically, it takes me four to five months to finish a book. Even when it's fully written, I may take a few weeks to edit it. This allows me to see discrepancies in the storyline and it also sparks new ideas.

4. Where do you get ideas for your writing?

For Diamonds in the Rough, the story idea came from a dream. In the dream, I visualized a girl whose whole mindset was controlled by her lover's hazel eyes. He had a certain power over her just from the way he would look at her. Wanting to incorporate that into a novel, I began putting several ideas together to form an urban fiction novel. Thus from the dream, Diamonds in the Rough was born.

5. Tell about your first book?

Here's a synopsis of Diamonds in the Rough:

“I see a woman who is just like the stars outside. She is shining as bright as she can with hope that someone sees her except this woman is far better than them. She's a diamond.”

Carmen Davenport is living the American dream. Born with a silver spoon in her mouth, she has anything that a twenty-one year old college student would want: supportive parents, a set of fly friends, and an inheritance to one of the most lucrative clothing companies in New York: Flame, Inc. The only thing missing is love, but that doesn't seem to faze her until she lays eyes on Jay Santiago, a Puerto Rican drug lord who is destined to make Carmen his at any cost. Almost instantly, Carmen begins to fall for him despite his reign as the head of a multi-million dollar drug cartel.

After securing the rights to her inheritance, Carmen soon learns that Flame, Inc. is headed towards a downward spiral. Too ambitious to allow her dream to go down the drain, Carmen begins pulling at all lifelines to save her company. Putting aside everything she's ever believed in, Carmen soon finds herself entangled in a web of lies, betrayal, and crime. However, Carmen knows that in order to achieve her goal, she must remain focused no matter how dangerous the road to success may get.

Diamonds In the Rough is the first of ten books known communally as “The Diamond Collection.”

6. What is the hardest part of writing?

The hardest part of writing is remaining dedicated to the craft. It is so easy to let life's everyday tasks distract you from your goals. Once you have the mindset that you are moving forward with a project, every little thing will try and stop you. Encouraging yourself is the only way to make it to the finish line.

Vogue is currently on virtual book tour with Authors Supporting Authors.  You can view her schedule on her website at http://simplyvogue.net  Leave a comment here today for your chance to win a copy of book number 1 in this fantastic series!

Diamonds In The Rough is set to release on June 1,  but you can pre-order a copy through her publisher at http://passionatewriterpublishing.com 

Thanks again for stopping in Vogue!  It's been a pleasure.

Our Winner is Tabitha Shay!

Winner of the Writers Pack and Surprise Book is Tabitha Shay!  Congratulations Tabitha!  

Winner was picked by random.org! 

Friday, May 28, 2010

**** Review of Meryll Manning: Trapped on Mystery Island by John Reid

Merryll Manning: Trapped on Mystery Island Merryll Manning: Trapped on Mystery Island by John Howard Reid

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Trapped on Mystery Island by John Reid is a fantastic read! Reid wastes no time getting into the action.

Meryll Manning is a police officer, and having a weakness for his girlfriend Susan, they participate in a murder mystery weekend adventure.

Each of the 13 guests plays a role in this game of Clue. By process of elimination, each guest must figure out who the murderer is, taking the grand prize of $5000.

When there is a real murder, Merryl and guests try to pin the murderer down while maintaining their own safety. The problem is that everyone suspects each other, and too many suspect Merryl.

Only after Meryll escapes the ties that bind, does he conclude who the real murderer is. Will the other guests believe him, or help the real guilty member escape?

Reid did a great job at grasping the readers attention from the beginning. He wasted no time getting into the action, and I just love the character of Meryll. Meryll is witty and smart, and has a definite soft spot for Susan.

I give Trapped on Mystery Island **** (4) Stars. BK Walker

View all my reviews >>

***3/4 Review of Kami Jin by Lloyd Kaneko

Kami Jin by Lloyd Kaneko is one title that will definitely get you thinking.  Narrated from the 23rd century,  it is a fantastic display of our world as it is today,  and what may become of it in the future.

Gordon A. Sakata II lives in the 23rd century.  As you can imagine,  the technology of the future is incredible.  Gordon suffered a terrible skiing accident as a child and now has a bionic arm.  His arm runs on a battery that gives it power through a watch he wears on his wrist.  If the watch is removed,  the arm goes dead.  Not only does this watch give his arm life,  but it also harbors a virtual computer.

Through this computer,  Gordon records memoirs of his journey in time.  As a native of Napajan,  Gordon portrays Asian features,  even though he is legally an American. 

His memoirs start with a description of time during the 21st century.  It was when he himself lost his job due to the introduction of droids to replace humans in Corporate America,  that he realizes that the nation was going under.  Humans were losing their jobs,  being forced into the streets,  and no where to turn for help.

As the government decides War is imminent against Napajan,  Asians are captured and forced into concentration camps.  Gordon records daily of the abuse,  and testing being done to prisoners.  When they realize that Gordon can use his computer to transcribe the activities at these camps,  they take Gordon to the mountains,  planning on his demise.

What they never expected,  was that Gordon's wife,  a Princess from an Intergalactic Universe,  would find and rescue him.  Much to Gordon's surprise as well,  he learns of his wife's true identity and that he was born to rule their planet.  Will Gordon be able to save planet Earth from the immorality that is placed upon human's by the government?

Kaneko did a great job of creating a thought provoking plot.  What can we as a society do to keep ourselves in the running?  What Kaneko speaks of is actually happening in our society today.  It is very disheartening to think about it,  and to think about what might become of us in the future. 

Kami Jin,  meaning paper people,  the example used in this story is exactly how the government treats citizens,  discarding them as if they were paper plates being thrown into the trash.

Though Kami Jin was a little slow to start,  once the action started,  especially at the end,  I found myself anxious to see what happened next. 

I give Kami Jin ***3/4 (3.75)  Stars,  BK Walker.

Learn more about this author - Lloyd Kaneko

Purchase Kami Jin  -  Amazon

Available in paperback and on Kindle.


BK Walker Books - All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Author Spotlight - Melody Dempsey

 I was born in Chelsea Massachusetts. I have been married for 31 years and I have two grown daughters, and five "furry babies. Two cats and three dogs. 
I have always enjoyed writing ever since I was in Elementary school. I remember the feeling of excitement I would get whenever my English teacher wanted us to write a story. I remember once when I was in the third grade, my teacher wanted all of us in the class to write a short story of any topic of our choosing. I wrote a comedy about a dog and a cat. I can't remember all of the story now, but I do remember reading it and the class loved it! I remember the story was about the comedic antics of one dog and a mean cat. The story ended with the dog being chased up a tree. That image is still funny. I remember winning the first place blue ribbon for that story. 

I actually started to write seriously when I was around 14 years old. During the summer months I found that I had more time on my hands. I loved to read more in my early teen years. After reflecting back on the materials I read, I would sit, with pen in hand, paper in front of me,(there were no home computers back then), and I would start to create my own stories. I have always been very fond of fiction, adventure, human interest stories, mystery, and thriller novels. I also enjoy comedies, and of course, stories about animals. 

The Forest Portal tells the story of three teens as they embark on an amazing journey through time. Thrilled about the last day of school, Cameron Maine, his younger sister Collette, along with their friend Taden, decide to go to the beach for an afternoon of fun and relaxation, but Cameron has other plans he has not revealed to the other two. He tells them he wants help collecting seaweed, shells, and other seashore items. Taden questions his friend’s request, but reluctantly decides to lend a hand.
Cameron has plans to develop a sealant that turns old wood new again. Taden, feeling doubtful about the plausibility of Cameron new project soon discovers, along with Cameron and Collette that the sealant actually turns out to be a paint that has the ability to turn wood bight, rainbow colors. Excited, the three decide to paint some trees in a heavily wooded area behind Cameron and Collette’s house. The three soon discover, to there amazement that the two freshly painted trees has the ability to transport them into another time, another place. The trio find themselves probing even more into a dimension so bizarre, deeper into the realm of an unknown world that they discovered, sending them on a journey that makes a summer they will never forget! 


Cam was somewhat relieved when he saw that the paint on the trees dried clear. “Well looks like this stuff might work after all!” he said, smiling.

Taden touched one of the trees. “It’s dry.” He inadvertently stepped to the inside of one of the trees.
Suddenly a whirlwind of colors started to materialize around the space between the two trees. Taden jumped and the colors disappeared as quickly as they had appeared just seconds before. He looked around.
He found himself in a large field.

“What the hell?” he said out loud as he stood there stunned. Taden took a couple of steps backwards. He saw the colors again, then suddenly found himself back in the woods. He turned around and saw Cam and
Collette gaping at him, both as white as sheets.

“W…Where did you go?” Cam managed to stammer out.

Taden looked at him, bewildered. “I….I have no idea! I….It was strange! I was in the middle of this huge
field! The woods were gone. I didn’t see you two, then the next thing I know, you two appear again!” he exclaimed as he sat down on the ground.

Cam gave him a funny look. “You were in a field?” he questioned, in disbelief.

“Yeah,” Taden replied, still not believing his short experience, feeling as if he just walked out of a dream.

Collette was gawking at the trees. “We saw colors appear between those trees when you disappeared. It
was weird!”

Taden looked at her.

Melody is currently working on a sequel to The Forest Portal.  To learn more about Melody and her works,  please visit http://www.authormelodydempsey.com

Monday, May 24, 2010

Coloring Publicity with Marian L. Thomas

Today I'd like to welcome Marian L. Thomas,  she is the wonderful author of Color Me Jazzmyne.  Today she is going to open up her box of crayons and talk a little bit about publicity in the form of Press Releases.  Thank you so much for being with us today Marian,  it is such a joy to have the chance to chat with you.

Do you really need a Press Release?
By Marian L. Thomas
Best-Selling Author of Color Me Jazzmyne

Creating a press release yourself can be a terrifying ordeal, but it must be done. Press releases are like the gateway to the world of media. If you don’t create and send them out, you just might find that the door to getting your name out into the media world could remain locked. Not having a press release is like not having the keys that start the engine going to your ongoing road to publicity. If fact, you will send out multiple press releases.
When should you create a press release? Consider any major events that will happen along your journey to publication, these are great triggers for press releases. A book signing at a major book store, a guest appearance on a television show, a guest speaker appearance for a charity event, etc….. I think you get the point.
There are many companies out there that specialize in creating press releases so if you aren’t comfortable with wearing that hat, put it on one of them and allow them to create it for you. Be very careful, there are a lot of press release companies out there that charge hefty amounts and deliver very little on the promise of reaching “thousands” of media contacts. Do your research and by all means make sure they are reputable. There are also many free resources out there for posting your press release if you decide to tackle it on your own. You can also find many good press release templates that can be very useful in creating your press release.
Here are 6 important things to have in your press release:
An attention-grabbing headline. This is a brief “benefits” point of view statement.
Make sure your first paragraph contains the most important information since generally readers will only glance at the first few sentences. Give them the when, what, where and why statements in the first few sentences and you might get them to read the entire press release.
Make sure you are not trying to sell your book but rather, remember that your purpose is to deliver news worthy information about your event. Add some humor if possible.
Make sure your information can be verified if you are adding statistics or facts. Don’t stretch the details to make it more interesting.
Have your targeted audience in mind when writing your press release and use “buzz” words that will trigger interest.
Make sure your contact information for media copies or interviews is listed.

About Marian L. Thomas:
 Originally from Chicago but currently resides in Atlanta with her husband and their spoiled but playful dog-Winston, whom she likes to affectionately, refer to as “big-boned”.  Received her Bachelor’s of Art degree in Business Communication, graduating Magna Cum Laude and began her journey to authorship writing poetry but later moved on to write for the Collegian as a News Editor and Sports Editor during her early college years. Mrs. Thomas currently writes for Newbie's Magazine and her debut title Color Me Jazzmyne recently reached #1 on the Amazon.com Bestseller list. She has been a featured guest on The Chris Treece show, Black Perl Magazine, the Award-winning morning show of Tron Simpson for KCMN 1530AM, Skirt! Atlanta Magazine as one of Atlanta's 9to5 Women in the Media Industry, CrossRoadsNews and many other media outlets.
Website: http://www.marianlthomas.com

Where to find Marian L. Thomas next
Marian is currently on a virtual tour hosted by Authors Supporting Authors. Her next stop will be with host Paula Phillips on the “Paula Zone” - May 27, 2010. Read her author interview and post your comments.

To BK Walker Books from Marian:"Your blog and all that you do to help promote authors is truly amazing. What a great platform and wonderful resource.”

Thank you so much Marian.  I love working with all of you authors as well.  Please don't forget to leave a comment here today for Marian for a chance to win a copy of Color Me Jazzmyne.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

VBT Pit Stop #2 with Lorrie Struiff

Everyone has secrets. Homicide Detective Rita Moldova has a secret, a crystal amulet from her Roma bloodline that allows her to see the last image a victim had seen in their eyes before they died. Now, a ritual killer is terrorizing her town and the crystal’s magic has suddenly stopped doing its job. 
 FBI agent, Matt Boulet, is sent to lead the task force and gives the group strange orders. Worse, Rita senses he is holding back a deep, dark secret about the killer. 
When she confronts her seer mother’s advice, she learns another secret about their clan that she finds impossible to swallow.

Rita swims through a whirlpool of confusion as the investigation continues. Can Rita deny the lore of the ancients? Can she deny her growing feelings for Matt Boulet?

Today I'd like to welcome Lorrie Struiff,  author of Gypsy Crystal.  Please give her a warm welcome,  and thank you so much for being with us today Lorrie.


Thank you so much for having me here today. And, a warm welcome to all of you readers.

                           WHAT IS NEEDED FOR A GOOD STORY

Have you ever started reading a novel and fifty pages in, your eyes start glazing over? Or the same scene is described for two pages? The characters are cardboard- stiff?

You look again to see the name of the author who wrote the book. "Really?" you ask. Then you try to stay with the novel, but again with your eyes glazing until you must put it aside and reach for another book in your TBR pile. The story is not holding you, it's boring.

So, what is needed for a good story?

The best stories have a strong theme, a fascinating plot, a fitting structure, unforgettable characters, a well-chosen setting, and an appealing style. The story must be well written to capture the imagination.

Great stories make a promise. They promise fun, excitement, and to take you along for a great
read. The reader trusts the author to deliver on that promise.

People decide if they like a novel after reading only a few pages. Great stories are rarely aimed at everyone. The most effective stories match the world view of a tiny audience--a target audience-- and then that tiny audience spreads the good word on the story.

In Gypsy Crystal, my theme follows the mystical lore and traditions of the Roma people. Imagine a homicide detective with a secret amulet that mysteriously helps her in her job. The plot of capturing a serial killer who is loose in her town, and the pacing of the structure slowly building with twists and turns to rise to a dramatic end. My main characters, Rita and Matt, spark feelings in the reader as well as with each other. The setting for my story takes place in a location I know well and adds to the authenticity. The story is trendy and fits with the paranormal style prevalent in today's popular novels.

Is Gypsy Crystal well written? That is for the reader to decide. But I think it will grab you from page one and your eyes will not glaze over because you will be too busy turning the pages. The novella has many surprises in store for the reader. Try it, I think you'll like it.


        Rita Moldova's best-kept secret, a crystal amulet that shows her the last image a victim
had seen when they died and has helped propel her career as a homicide detective  until
prostitutes start dropping.

        A ritual killer dubbed the Ripper by the media is terrorizing her town and it's Rita's job
to help end his killing spree. The problem  Rita's mystical amulet, passed down through her
Roma bloodline, has failed for the first time in memory to do its job  and it's making it a real
bitch for Rita to do hers.

        To make matters worse, the FBI has sent in hunky agent, Matt Boulet, to lead the case
and Rita finds herself attracted to him.
        When Rita visits her mother  a gifted seer in her own right ­ and her uncle to glean what
she can about the history of the amulet and the lore of their clan, she learns much more than she
bargained for, and the truth is too much for her to swallow.

        As the investigation continues, Rita learns she can't deny the lore of the ancients, or her
growing feelings for Matt Boulet.


    Detective Rita Moldova peeked around the corner to make sure the hallway was empty. Making a quick right turn, she slipped into the autopsy lab to have a few minutes alone with the body. She tucked her white shirt tighter into her jeans and zipped her windbreaker to stay warm in the chilly room. The harsh odor of
formaldehyde hit her nostrils and stung her throat.
    Her heart twisted at the sight of the young, auburn-haired woman lying on the stainless steel table. A white sheet covered her to the navel; bruises blemished the once pretty face. Contusions marred the pallid skin from elbow to shoulder. The gash on the front of her neck gaped, exposing open veins and torn tissue.
    Rita flipped her thick, dark braid back over her shoulder, snapped on one latex glove, leaned over the corpse, and peeled back an eyelid. In her bare hand, she clasped a star-shaped crystal hanging from the gold chain around her neck, an endowment from her maternal Roma bloodline. The crystal heated in her palm, warm energy pulsing up her arm to her shoulder. The face captured in the victim's eye coalesced and stared back. Rita drew in a sharp breath. Bobby Driscoll! She had known him since high school, and now he worked as a uniform in her precinct. What the hell was going on?

    Visit my website for more info. http://struiff.wordpress.com/ and to read the reviews.

Gypsy Crystal is now available in print and MultiFormat e-book at Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/Gypsy-Crystal-Lorrie-Unites- Struiff/dp/1770650415/ref=tmm_pap_title_0


Lorrie Unites-Struiff is a native of West Mifflin, twenty minutes from downtown,
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She writes short stories in different genres that have appeared in various publications and anthologies. When she is not sitting in front of her computer, she's often found checking out bookstores, leading her writing workshops, or having lunch with local authors.

Be sure to leave a comment here today,  and follow Lorrie on her tour,  leaving a comment along the way for your chance to win a copy of Gypsy Crystal.

Also by leaving a comment today,  you will be entered into a drawing to win a writer pack and a surprise book from BK Walker Books. Winner will be drawn Friday,  May 28th. 

Good luck!  Thank you again for chatting with us today Lorrie.  You have been very insightful and I just love the excerpt.  I can't wait to read your book,  it's on my list :).

Saturday, May 22, 2010

***** Review of Color Me Jazzmyne by Marian L. Thomas

Color Me Jazzmyne by Marian L. Thomas is an excellent read.  From beginning to end it will definitely stir emotions,  as you feel Naya Mona's story,  and feel her pain.

Naya Mona' lived a life that no child should ever have to endure.  As a child she had a father that loved her,  went to every play,  loved to hear her sing.

That was,  until she became a young woman.  Then her life took a drastic turn,  as her father forgot to be a father,  and she ends up pregnant.  Forced to succumb to her father's touch and harsh rules, and having her baby torn from her when her father was mad it wasn't a girl,  Naya dreams of the day that she could leave the darkness and be free.

Searching the colors of her crayon box,  Naya finally finds her escape.  Young,  and no clue where to go,  who to turn to,  she finds her way to New York. 

Through a series of events that quickly have her searching her crayon box again,  she finds her voice,  becomes Jazzmyne the jazz singer,  and she is faced with the son she never had the chance to know. 

Her son arrives,  demanding answers,  wanting to know his roots. The problem is,  she is not sure she wants to open her crayon box,  to bare all those nasty colors to someone she doesn't even know.

Follow Naya as she tells the story of her life.  She is speaking to her son,  but you will be drawn in and will feel her pain as she hesitantly relives her past, as she adds new colors as well as pulls the old ones.

Thomas did an excellent job describing this tale,  pulling you in from beginning to end.  This is one story you won't be able to put down until you have finished it in its entirety. 

I give Color Me Jazzmyne ***** (5) Stars, BK Walker

Learn more about this author - Marian L. Thomas

#1 Best Seller on Amazon - Purchase your copy today!
COLOR ME JAZZMYNE  Available in Paperback and on Kindle.

BK Walker Books - All Rights Reserved

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Literary Words with author Fiona Ingram

Please give a warm welcome to Fiona Ingram,  Author of Children's Book The Secret of the Sacred Scarab.  Fiona is big on literary advocacy.  She believes no child should go withoout,  creating this fabulous tale.  She has always had a love for reading and she states: 

"Naturally, I am a voracious reader and have been from early childhood. I can remember sitting on the bus going home from school, reading, and then missing my stop because I was so caught up in the book. I also went to boarding school at Durban Girls' College and the boarders' section was separate from the school. I used to walk down to College House with one foot in the gutter of the path, so that I could continue reading and not walk into a tree or something. I love all kinds of books, art, theatre, antiques, animals (5 cats, 2 dogs and a ferocious duck called Charlemagne), music, and films. Travel is another passion and I have been fortunate to have lived in Europe (while studying) and America (for work). I have travelled widely and fulfilled many of my travel goals."

Thank you so much for being with us today.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself....

I live in South Africa; I became a children’s author almost by accident, even though I have been a journalist forever and ever. I love books, travel, books, movies, books and more books. I have an adopted African daughter. I live with my disabled Mom and lots of interesting animals including a duck called Charlemagne. (he is in the book too!)

What inspired you to pen your first novel?

I went to Egypt with my two nephews and my Mom a few years ago. I decided to write the boys a short story as a memento. I called it The Secret of the Sacred Scarab – the next minute I had a whole book on my hands and lots of sequel ideas jumping around in my head.

Why choose children’s books?

As I said, it was accidental, or more serendipitous. I didn’t consciously plan it. It was only afterwards I read about all the things I should NEVER have done. For authors planning a children’s book series…  NEVER try to break into the children’s market first. NEVER start your book with a journey. NEVER write sequels until you have a publisher that says it’s a good idea… the list goes on. Alas, I broke every rule.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I like to listen to either classical music or film track music very loudly.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

My first book was Gruesome Gables, an ongoing horror saga involving intrepid kids and a haunted house. It seemed to go on forever. I was ten and had younger brothers to entertain.

Do you write in any other genre?

I wrote a Regency Romance for fun a few years ago. It languished in a folder on my computer until I read about a literary agency that was looking for this style of historical romance. I now have a writing contract. Rather nice. I have just finished an historical Viking action novel with another writer as well. Also a departure from my usual genre.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Imagination. My historical romance came about because I was running a dating agency. My children’s book came about after a family trip to Egypt. I read a lot about earth mysteries, foreign countries, ancient history, theories of pre-civilization etc, and that has given me the basis for my children’s series.

What was the hardest thing about writing this particular novel?

The marketing. I read an article that began, “So you’ve written a book? Ha! Ha! That was the easy part, now for the hard part.” I thought to myself, “What could be harder than actually writing a book?” Yep, the marketing. There are so many books produced now, with the advent of POD and online publishing companies, that we’re overwhelmed by numbers. An author has to fight to get their book recognized.

Can you tell us a little bit about your book, and your trip to Egypt?

It’s a thrilling adventure for two young boys, whose fun trip to Egypt turns into a dangerously exciting quest to uncover an ancient and mysterious secret. A 5000-year-old mystery comes to life when a scruffy peddler gives two young tourists, Adam and Justin Sinclair, an old Egyptian scarab on their very first day in Egypt. I traced our actual footsteps and included a lot of the interesting things that happened to us. Of course, I would have loved to have experienced the adventure I later wrote about!

What do you hope readers will take away from your books?

I hope readers will experience the sense of wonder and awe that an ancient civilization such as Egypt inspires; a sense that here are more enduring factors in life than just the next gossip page, the latest cell phone, the ultimate in fashion etc. My young heroes are challenged in many ways and they rise to the occasions. They survive using their wits, their common sense, and their beliefs that their parents have ingrained in them. They learn about the value of life.

Are you working on anything right now?

Yes, I am trying to finish the next book in the series. It’s a wonderful adventure, of course linked to the first book. The title is The Search for the Stone of Excalibur. So look out, King Arthur fans, this one’s for you.

What do you like to do outside of writing?

I am a very culturally inclined person – anything to do with the arts appeals to me. Music, art, travel to interesting places where I can visit museums and crumbling old piles of ruins, ancient civilization, books (of course), and helping my adopted daughter with an appreciation of the finer elements in life, such as literature, poetry etc.

You are a big advocate on literacy, are there any programs that you are involved with?

It’s difficult to do anything outside of government agencies here in South Africa so I tend to write a lot of articles, and do readings at schools and libraries. I donate my books if I do a reading, and also chat to the kids about the importance of literacy.

What would be the one thing your readers may be most surprised to know about you?

I am completely terrified of needles and if I have to have an injection I usually faint long before the needle gets anywhere near me.

What advice can you give to new and aspiring writers/authors?

Don’t give up; make sure your work meets the industry’s stringent standards; learn all you can from the publishing industry’s marketing gurus by subscribing to newsletters and e-zines; get your work out there any way you can; enter as many book contests as possible. Last and most important piece of advice: TELL EVERYONE ABOUT YOUR BOOK and do something to market your work every day.

How may readers connect with you?  Website, social network sites, etc?

I also have some great “How To Do it” articles on my author site – media room

Do you have a parting comment?  Upcoming events?

Blog tours are an incredible way to spread the word about your work. I did one last year and found myself, my interviews and book reviews all over the Internet.

Thank you again for chatting with us today.  It has been such a pleasure.

Don't forget to follow Fiona on her virtual book tour,  leaving a comment at her pit stops,  including here,  for your entry to win a copy of her book,  The Secret of the Sacred Scarab. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Grab a snowflake as shown by author Lillian Brummet

Today my guest is Lillian Brummet,  author of Purple Snowflake Marketing,  Trash Talk, and Towards Understanding,  which she co-wrote with her husband, Dave.  Lillian is very active in teaching people how to live in an eco-friendly environment,  and she is very knowledgeable in marketing.  If you are at a loss as to which way to go with the promotion of your books,  or even your business,  then Purple Snowflake Marketing can help.

Lillian,  thank you so much for being with us today. 

It is a thrill, Brandi! I really enjoyed networking with you in the past and appearing on your May 11 - Guest Blogging at BK's Live Journal (  http://bk-walker.livejournal.com ) and the April 27 - Spotlight Feature at BK Walker Books (  http://virtualbooktourcafe.weebly.com ) - Your support of our work is certainly appreciated.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself...

Well, I'm a 40-year-old woman - I have a huge passion for the 5-R's of waste management (rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle), gardening and writing. Outside of this my passions involve camping, music and animals. On the hours off that I have away from both the office and home-based duties, I can be found hiking, bicycling or snowshoeing in our BC mountains, or canoeing one of the lakes in the Kootenay, Boundary and Okanagan regions, and rolling on the ground with my fur-companions. Our two rescued dogs are family to Dave and I, they go everywhere with us and we are constantly working with them to learn new tools, new ways of living. They are wonderful to be with and help me realize the amazing rebound affect that victims of abuse and neglect can go through when given a wholesome life.

What brought you and Dave to decide to work together as authors?

Our professional writing career started when we took our first writing course, where I was assigned an article project. I chose the genre due to my own passion on the topic (reusing "trash"). That was when Trash Talk began, just as a single article that I queried out and to my surprise got picked up as a column and within months was published internationally every two weeks. That was a lot of work, having to come up with a new topic in the genre and revealing as much as I could within the limited word count that one is assigned by publications. Dave jumped on board, gladly, and helped with editing proof reading, being a general soundboard and coming up with topics. Today we have had hundreds of non-fiction articles and poems and book reviews published as staff and freelance writers, song lyrics and music lesson projects released to the public, as well as our 3 books, 2 radio shows, newsletter and 2 blogs.

Is it hard co-writing with your husband?

I would love to be able to report that co-writing with a spouse is always lovely, and loving and super special with milk and cookies every day... (she laughs) -  but in reality we've had to learn how to find compromises over the years. We've come to understand each other’s strengths and limitations, to have empathy for each other’s passions and obligations outside of the office and more. It can be hard sometimes to see Dave take on a big project when we are behind on one we haven't finished yet. It can be hard for Dave to wait for me to get off the computer so he can have his turn, or to be done with an interview so that he can discuss something with me. These of course are only examples, and the roles could be reversed from one moment to the next. After more than 10 years of working together, we finally were able to invest in a second computer (a Mac, of course) and a new digital voice recorder this year, which we expect will be a great boon to our level of production.

Dave’s strengths tend to lay in the graphic, diagram design related genre. He’s an award-winning photographer, and has enjoyed using them to accompany articles and poems we’ve had purchased by various magazines. He also designs the book covers, proof-reads and edits virtually all of the work that comes from the office. Actually, the pieces I’ve written that didn’t have his perusal first, show it. So I always appreciate this in him. His responsibilities also include web-design management, ad design, logos and audio, and other technical duties. He is also the face that most people see locally in person.

My strengths lie in being a strong keyboardist (I can type well) and good Internet research skills. I do most of the marketing and radio appearances, Online marketing, organization, querying and follow-ups, email management, hosting of the radio programs, and managing the blogs. I tend to create the drafts for our writing projects, including the research for them – and then we work together to fine tune the product.

What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?

For me, writing has allowed me to feel like my life has value – that there is a reason for my lungs taking air in and out right now. “Why am I alive?” I used to ask myself. I came from an abusive, broken family life, was on my own at a very young age (13) and have been in a fairly serious car accident.
At that point, after the accident, I couldn’t understand why I survived all that I had only to have everything I worked for erased by this event. So after the chronic depression became manageable, I started to look at what kind of legacy I wanted to leave behind.

You might have heard others, who have been through similar shocks in life, that they begin to question the impact their life has had on the planet. What good have they done? What value lay in the fact that this person once existed?

So that same passion is behind everything I do… to the point where I was actually taken aside for a family meeting to be told that it was time for me to take 3 days in a row for myself every month. A commitment I have stuck to since then. You see, I was just doing too much and was reaching a breaking point. It can be hard to stop when the office is there, every day. I don’t leave the office behind when I am walking the dogs or mowing the lawn or filing in the office. My mind is always working on what guest we are having on the show, or how I want an article to sound, or how I plan on approaching a particular marketing opportunity. So that time away, has become essential for my own sanity and the harmony of the home.

How did you become such a guru on marketing?

You know its funny how that all started. You see, Dave and I have run businesses in the past (Drum-it Percussion & Incredibly Clean) as well as working in management positions – and as such we were often taking courses and reading books on management, business plan development and marketing alternatives. From that background we looked at writing as a business, and for any business to succeed one must have a strong business plan and a flexible, long-term marketing plan in place.

When people on forums began relying on me to respond to their many questions, people began fondly referring to me as their “guru girl” and their “pink bunny” – that last one came from a fellow who joked that our marketing efforts seemed tireless; that we kept going and going… like the battery bunny you often see on TV commercials. So the “pink bunny” I became. (She laughs). 

What was the hardest part of writing Purple Snowflake Marketing?

Great question Brandi! Hmmm… I think the hardest thing was ensuring in my own mind that this e-book filled the gaps that other books in this genre have left. This involved a lot of research and re-reading some of our favorite writer’s resources to make sure that the product we were putting out was not only unique in the focus and content, but was also providing a real service. Another time-consuming aspect was the organization factor, making sure that the steps could be followed in the most efficient way. Because it is an e-book, we are able to update the content occasionally, and this allows us to increase the number of resources based on the things we’ve learned between publications. As such, the writing of this e-book will never be done. I always have several files going for new contributions for the next edition.

Can you tell us a little bit about your book?

Sure, I’d love to! Purple Snowflake Marketing really is a step-by-step guide that shows the writer who is working with a limited budget how to professionally and efficiently market every single book they write. There are about 19 chapters and 26 appendices that offer more than 900 links that the reader can access with a click of a mouse. This e-book shows everything that we have done in the 11 years of being in this career as professionals. It also offers encouraging advice and useful quotes from publishers, editors, writers, agents, book reviewers and others in the industry that we developed relationships with.

What dreams have been realized as a result of writing this book?

Well, for one thing I have my own marketing plan in a handy format! (She laughs) Honestly, it is the very tool I use for all our published works as well. So it is very handy for me, personally. I think the main thing I learned from releasing this book is that people definitely respond to how-to business and skill related books within the non-fiction genre, as compared to others that I’ve written in.

The benefits of releasing the book included reinforcing the networking relationships I have had over the years with various media and writing professionals. But really - the personally satisfying factor comes from hearing from publicists who tell me the appendices are invaluable tools for their careers; we’ve heard from authors who were lost in the maze and found their way out again. I’ve also noticed that this e-book has given us some clout when approaching new contacts with queries for articles and books; editors and publishers want to work with writers who are willing to do the behind the scenes work in the industry.

What advice can you give to new and aspiring writers/authors?

Where ever you are in your writing, research it. Research is the #1 tool for a writer. If you are querying a publication, for instance, you want to know what column you are aiming for (the garden column, the home repair column, etc) and who the contact is for that section of the publication. You want to know their circulation, and determine who their readers are through the focus of their articles and advertisement designs. Read several issues so that you know how they are speaking to their audience and reflect this information in both the piece itself, and the query letter you send out. Before your query letter is sent out your research should already tell you answers to common questions such as release dates and upcoming themes, suggested guidelines and word count requirements, lead-times and response times. So whatever you do, before you ask a question – see if you can find the answer yourself with the writer’s research skills that you already posses. People in the writing industry are so restricted for time that responding to common questions they’ve already addressed somewhere else can be frustrating for them and can result in a negative response.

What do you like to do outside of writing?

Outside of writing professionally and reading for leisure – I spend a lot of time gardening for pleasure and for practical benefits like nutrient-rich food production. Dave and I bought our first home only 4 years ago and have spent much of out time and finances on upgrades to the house and property. This year alone we’ve already had the lawn de-thatched and reseeded, compost bins turned, garden beds amended, underground irrigation installed (by an outside contractor) and fixed some drainage issues we had on 2 sides of the house as well as some cement work (creating a mow-friendly edge around our garden areas). This is only the beginning of a 2-page list of to-do’s that we hope to get completed this year! (She laughs) So most of our time outside of work is spent on one of the many items on the list.  Dave and I love to explore trails and waterways and spend every moment we can get to refresh ourselves with these activities.

What is one thing your readers may be most surprised to know about you?

I’m not a huge fan of cooking – although I do get into the mood occasionally, normally this is a mundane chore for me and can actually spoil my appetite if I have to menu plan by myself for several weeks at a time. I’m a bit of a picky eater, avoiding deep fried foods and fatty meats, or what I view as “sea or land insects” (lobster, shrimp, crab etc). Dave however, loves cooking and is excellent at it (we just need someone to clean up the kitchen afterwards) – he’ll eat anything!

Because of the Incredibly Clean business I ran for 6 years prior to the vehicle accident we talked about earlier, I fine-tuned my already clean lifestyle, and I can get really bothered by things I haven’t done in a while. People that visit us often comment on how clean the house is, and this is important to me. One of my pet peeves is going out to a restaurant to find filth on their window blinds, window sills, the seats themselves or at the bottom of the wall along the floor – these areas are sometimes filthy in food establishments and any one of these is a tale tell sign as to what the areas are like that the public do not see. I’ve worked in the restaurant industry in the past and have seen it first hand, if the owners don’t notice those things in the front of the house – you know worse can be found in the back of the house.

…Does that surprise you? (She laughs)

Do you have any upcoming events you would like to share today?

Well, later on today I have a prerecorded interview with Motivational Minds Radio, but that won’t air for quite some time yet from what I understand. On May 20th I have Ina Hilldebrandt coming in to talk about youth literacy on Conscious Discussions Talk radio show (10 AM Pacific – http://blogtalkradio.com/consciousdiscussions) and on the 21st I have Debbie Nicholson dropping in to Authors Read radio show (9 AM Pacific – http://blogtalkradio.com/authorsread) to read from her poetry books. I’ll also be guest blogging with Alissa Grosso (http://alissagrosso.com) about how to work with another writer on May 21st.  And to close this week on the 22nd I’ll be hosting the Sunday Gardening segment of Conscious Discussions radio, focusing on the topic of pollinators.

Do you have a parting comment?

I’d love to invite your readers to drop by my blog – Brummet’s Conscious Blog -  where they can find the eco-tip of the day, quote of the day, conscious living tips, resources for writers and green living enthusiasts, writer interviews and more. http://consciousdiscussions.blogspot.com

- Dave & Lillian Brummet -

Authors of:
- Purple Snowflake Marketing - How to Make Your Book Stand Out In A Crowd 
- Trash Talk - Learn how you can impact the planet 
-Towards Understanding - a collection of 120 poems on society, the environment & overcoming trauma.  
Hosts of:
Conscious Discussions talk radio show:  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/consciousdiscussions
Authors Read radio program: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/authorsread

Thank you so much for being with us today Lillian.  It has been such a pleasure chatting with you. If you would like to purchase any of Lillian's books,  please visit her website.
Lillian is on virtual book tour with Purple Snowflake Marketing,  and by leaving a comment here today you will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of this fantastic tool.  You may also visit her websites for her tour schedule,  and by leaving a comment throughout her tour,  you will be eligible for an entry to win her book. 
Don't forget to stop in at her blog for tips and lots of information!  

Monday, May 17, 2010

Saying This and That with author B. Swangin Webster

Today I'd like to welcome B. Swangin Webster,  author of "Let Me Just Say This",  and "Again...Let Me Say This".   Thank you so much for stopping in to chat with us B.  It is a pleasure having you,  and I am so happy to be your first stop on your virtual book tour.  B.  is on book tour with Authors Supporting Authors and The Virtual Book Tour Cafe',  so please make sure you leave a comment here for her today and you will be entered into a drawing for your chance to win one of her fantastic books.

B. Swangin Webster  she currently works in a middle school in Waldorf Maryland and is married with five grown children and four adorable grandsons.

She grew up in the Washington DC area calls Southern Maryland her home.

When she isn't writing, she is reading one of her many books in her extensive library of over 200. She also calls herself an "imitation Rachel Ray"  Her passions are writing and reading.

BK-When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?  

BSW-When I was in middle school, I would spend all of my time, coming up with stories and writing them.

BK-How long does it take you to write a book? 

BSW-Normally it takes me about 4 or 5 months to write a book.

Wow B,  that's a pretty fast turn around.  When you write you must really get into it.

BK-What is your work schedule like when you're writing? 

BSW-When I write, I don't normally have a work schedule. I normally just let it happen. So if I'm at my "other" job and it hits me, I stop what I am doing and work on my storyline.

BK-What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

BSW-Ummm, the most interesting thing I do when writing, would have to be talking out loud to my characters

BK-How did your books get published? 

BSW-Books get published by being persistant and not taking that rejection letter as the final answer. If you believe in your story, than you won't take a simple no as your final answer.

BK-Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

BSW-My first book came as an assignment in high school about an event we would not want to live through, and since domestic violence was something I didnt understand, but knew of someone whose parents were dealing with it, I never wanted to have to deal with something like that.

BK-When did you write your first book and how old were you? 

BSW-My first book was written when I was 18 years old, straight out of high school

BK-What do you like to do when you're not writing? 

BSW-My favorite hobby is reading, of course, and cooking. I compare myself to Rachel Ray.

BK-I love Rachael!  What's your favorite thing to cook?

BSW-I love cooking the black pepper shrimp w/wilted spinich. Who knew that using only black pepper would be so delicious?

BK-What does your family think of your writing? 

BSW-My family is my biggest supporters. They literally badger me for the next installment.

BK-What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? 

BSW-The most surprising things was that I created something that causes me to become angry,happy,sad or just laughing out loud at some of the things my mind comes up with

BK-How many books have you written? 

BSW-I have written 3

BK-Which is your favorite? 

BSW-My 2nd and 3rd, Once and For All-the final chapter (not yet published) is my favorites.

BK-Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?

BSW-My suggestion for anyone to become a better writer is to always associate with other authors and writers. Just like any profession, you have to surround yourself with people who understand what you are doing and going through.

BK-Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? 

BSW-Yes, when I do book signings, I always have people there who have read the first book, and literally they are very very angry with me, for allowing my character to go through what she is dealing with, but then when they learn the "history" of the characters, they understand and they can sympathize with her. They also say that they are angry by the way that Cheryl (main character) handles some of the situations she is in.

BK-Do you like to create books for adults only? 

BSW-Yes, all of my books are for adults.

BK-What do you think makes a good story?

BSW-A story has to grab you from the first sentence, and if not by the first sentence then at least by the end of the first chapter.

BK-As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

BSW- I wanted to be an executive living in New York, like Omarosa.

I have had such a great time chatting with you B.  Please be sure to let us know when your newest book is published,  and stop back anytime.  B. also has a special edition of Again...Let Me Say This,  so be sure to check it out,  and visit her website at http://bswanginwebster.webs.com .

Please follow B. Swangin Webster on her virtual book tour,  leaving comments at her pit stops for your chance to win a copy of one of her books!