Thursday, May 27, 2010

How Books In the Home Boost a Child's Education

How Books In the Home Boost a Child's Education

Inspired by a recent article on child literacy and books, I have written an article on the effect of having books in the house on a child's education. What many of us take for granted is reading, being able to read properly and fluently, and the availability of books. I am sure many people never even think about how they learned to read; I am sure that for many people, including myself, it seemed that you just 'knew' how to read. How many people can remember growing up with books and more books and still more books in the house. I remember shelves and shelves of books, many of those beloved old friends I still have with me. Oh, I can't toss them out, even though the spines are broken and the pages more than a little dog-eared. My parents didn't know it at the time, but having so many books in the house is possibly the reason I went onto further and higher education, racking up an impressive number of degrees at university. Maybe that's the reason I became a writer? Whatever the reasons, books remain an integral part of boosting a child's chance of further study. So don't be frugal when it comes to the printed word. If you have kids, splash out and get them all the books their hearts desire!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Jo Davis & "Domestics"

Say hello to my eighth Virtual Book Tour guest. Jo Davis has published two books, several short stories, and numerous web content pieces throughout the World Wide Web. She also writes periodically for the local news and is currently working on another local history text. Jo holds a bachelor's degree in English from Purdue University. When not writing, Jo helps others get their writing right. Her company Bylines by Jo specializes in content creation and editing. The BBJ team is comprised of seasoned freelance writers with experience in areas from construction to web design, gardening to midwifery. All writers are experienced in tailoring the voice and content of the article or piece of text to match that of the client.

We’re going to talk about Jo’s book Domestics.
Domestics is a terrific read comprising two short stories that waste no time getting into the action. Sarah is married to Keith and severely abused by him. The day he beat their child Brandy to death, Sarah’s life forever changed. In a heated rage, Keith learned exactly what he has put Sarah and Brandy through. After the death of her husband, Sarah becomes a counselor for domestic violence. She helps these abused women in more ways than one. The day Rick comes into Sarah’s life, she finds herself attracted to a man after ten years of solitude. They seem to be a perfect pair, talking until all hours of the night. Rick is a Private Investigator and retired police officer. After the sudden death of his partner, he vows to prove it was murder. Little does he know that his new found love is tied into it. The last short story in this title is Smoke. Charlie finds himself craving the one thing he is most trying to quit....cigarettes. While on a plane, the craving becomes unbearable. He suddenly finds a cigarette in his belongings that he didn't know he had. Knowing he had a cigarette made it that much worse. When he decides to create his own fire, the airline attendants become worried about what he may be doing in the bathroom. Lucky for them, there is a Fire Marshall on the plane, but not so lucky for Charlie.

Review Comment: Davis did a magnificent job with this title. Full of action from beginning to end, I loved this book. I give Domestics ***** (5) Stars, B.K .Walker, Author of "Near Suicide" and "Dares And Dreams."

Chatting with Jo
Your career is steeped in helping other people get their websites or writing up to the mark—how and when did you decide to branch out into writing?
I found that a lot of my freelance work was doing just that. The clients that I created content for started asking other questions about their sites and keeping their material fresh. At first, I raised my prices to accommodate these extra tasks, but it became easier to just offer a separate service.

Your two books are completely different—one is non-fiction, and the other a short stories collection. Tell us how that happened!
I was actually commissioned to write the manuscript for Michigan City Marinas by the Michigan City Port Authority, as a 50th anniversary review. I got the manuscript published and found the accompanying photos to get the book that you see today. Domestics was a short story for a competition that grew to a small novel. I actually used Domestics to get the commissioned job.

You have a university background in English—did you ever dream or plan to be a writer?
Oh yes. I was an avid reader as a kid and a daydreamer. Writing was my way to create the different worlds like the ones I read about. Surprisingly, I began my college career as in accounting. I never knew anyone who made a living as a writer, so I believed that I had to make a living first and then write as a hobby. I know now that is not true.

What's the fun part of writing? Creating the people, places and things that make up the stories.
I am a daydreamer, as I said before, so it isn’t very difficult for me to imagine these what-if’s that make up fiction stories.

What's the hard part of writing?
Editing my own work. I see what I intended to put on the page, not what is truly there. I have to set my work aside for a while, detach from it, before going back and editing. That is part of the reason why I write longhand. I edit as I am typing the words in. This forces me to pay attention to the words. Even then, it is still work.

Do you have new books planned or outlined in your head?
I have a handful actually. I am currently editing Carrying On, a mystery novel about a single mother who is thrown into the middle of a murder mystery. She is under qualified and her best detective is a career criminal who is constantly getting caught. Meanwhile, another case surfaces that involves two grown men, a pink Cadillac, makeup and drug deals. There is also a very hyper ferret that goes by the name Fred.

Switching from nonfiction to fiction—was it easy/hard/a cinch?
I wrote the nonfiction book like a novel, with characters, plot, conflict, etc. I am told that the book isn’t like other local history books. It is full of pictures, but beneath them are not captions, but the story behind the marinas’ rise from mud pit to a yacht harbor.

Some advice to writers—the best advice you ever got/something you should have done but didn't...
I was much younger when I heard a famous actor say to find your passion, think of the one thing that you think of when you lay down at night and that is on your mind when you get up in the morning. That is your passion. Practice it often and it will become your life’s work.

Tell us something you'd like readers to know about you or your work.
I am not one of the disciplined writers with outlines, plotlines and structure about doing the work. I just write. I create. I sometimes wish that the disciplined, structured way was mine, but what fun would that be?

My thoughts exactly! Want to find out more about Jo and her books? Visit her website Bylines by Jo for more info and book purchase.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Podcasting and Promotion, Part 1 of 2

Podcasting and Promotion, Part 1 of 2

This is an excellent post/link by Lillian Cauldwell explaining the difference between podcasts and audio interviews, and how to get the very best out of this marketing format. I've had several podcast interviews and although it's initially nerve-wracking, once you're in the hands of a good interviewer, it's a piece of cake! Many people have said how much they enjoy hearing a favorite author speak, and explain things about their work that perhaps have never appeared in print or online. Pick up on these excellent tips!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Generality Is the Death of the Novel

Generality Is the Death of the Novel

Another great post by K.M. Weiland and one that is particularly pertinent to filling in the blanks in one's novel for the reader, or else making a character jump from flat to full. In this post the writer discusses how tiny, perhaps inconsequential details, make up the portrait of a scene or a character, filling it out and breathing life into those pages. Is it important that your character does certain things, likes a particular kind of biscuit with his tea, or has a penchant for scruffy tracksuits? You might not think so, but perhaps these tiny details add immeasurably to the back story you're trying to feed into the plot. Relook at your characters and get to know them as old friends, with all the quirks you already enjoy and love about your real old friends.

On the other hand, attention to detail can also drag down your plot or slow the action. A good guide line when considering piling on more detail is this: does it add to the plot? Does this figure in my readers' understanding of the story and the characters' motivations? If not, leave it out. I once began a book which I have no doubt would have been interesting, but I could not get past the first few chapters. The author took the reader on a painful journey from the moment the main character opened his eyes, through to the shower, into the kitchen, describing in minute detail how he made a cup of coffee, how long it took him to dress, his decisions on what socks to wear etc. Eventually I had to give up: I was drowning in minutae that had absolutely no bearing on the book. Unless, of course, the main character had obsessive compulsive disorder, but alas I didn't read long enough to find out.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

To Blog or Not To Blog

To Blog or Not To Blog

Having just mastered the art of creating blog posts (actually creating the blog itself is a blog post all on its own) I was intrigued to read Jolene James' post about blogging. Why do we blog? Does it increase book sales? Are we hoping to rack up 2 million plus followers like Ashton Kucher's Twitter site (or is it Demi who has so many?)? I must confess that having slavishly followed all the marketing gurus' commands about getting one's profile out into cyber-space, blogging was my final frontier. I finally took the plunge on January 1 on 2010 (ah, the post I promised about erasing half my computer contents....) and I can't say if I have sold any more books from it. What to write is also a question that has given cannon fodder to many a far more seasoned blogger than I am. One is reluctant to say anything too personal/controversial/critical because, as you know, cyberspace is cruel and limitless and never forgets. Somewhere, out there is a silly comment you made after a night out, or a nasty remark after reading yet another glowing review of a hated rival's book. Oh, isn't it just awful trying to get to the top? Particularly when the statistics on anyone actually reading your solitary little island of a blog diminish as the numbers of blogs/posts climb. Please read Jolene James' forthright and honest appraisal of just why we are led to blog.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Author Cissy Hunt & A Rose Blooms Among the Thorns

Say hello to my seventh guest on the Virtual Book Tour: author and poet Cissy Hunt. Cissy’s book A Rose Blooms Among the Thorns is a special testament to Cissy’s own life experiences, and how she has turned these into a means of enlightening and helping others. Before we find out more about Cissy, let’s take a look at her book.

Cissy says: “It is about a woman's journey from domestic abuse through healing to forgiveness. Though it is a fiction book, it is taken from my own life. It was a very hard book for me to write, because of having to relive it all, but true and complete healing came from writing it. It took me a long time to start writing the book but it came quickly once I started. I am a minister called to helping women who have come out of domestic abuse.

I started my book, A Rose Blooms Among the Thorns, in Feb of 2009 and turned it in to the publisher in June of 2009. The toughest obstacle that I had to overcome before completing my book was taking the journey into my past, but when the journey was complete I received complete healing. As for my title, "A Rose Blooms Among the Thorns", what is behind it is symbolism. Rose = new life; Blooms = over coming thorns = abuse."

You mention that this book was inspired by personal abuse. You live such a happy settled life now—was it difficult to dredge up your own pain to express it on paper, and why did you feel the need to share this with others?

Yes it was very difficult to take the journey back into my past but it had to be done, because there is so much domestic abuse in this country and women are left feeling that "IT" is all their fault. A woman that escapes a violent relationship leaves feeling worse than "DIRT."

Do you feel that being an ordained minister enables you to empathize with others' pain and thereby express your own emotions better in your writing?

Yes, a woman can relate to another woman who has been where she is now. It gives her hope, hope for a better live that doesn't hold pain and sorrow. I can show them that hope for a better life in my writing.

You love to write—was there someone who inspired you from an early age, or did you get your spark from books or poetry while growing up?

I loved reading every since I learned how to read. I'm a type of reader that gets totally "into" a book. I could go anywhere in time and be anyone I wanted to be. Books were an escape for me. One person inspired me to write and she was my 12th grade English teacher, Miss Fife. She not only complemented me on my writing but would push me to pull more out of myself. "Dig deeper," she would say.

Tell us more about your poetry—what moves you, inspires you? Do you have a special place or set of circumstances to be comfortable in writing?

My poetry just comes to me. I don't just sit down and say, "I'm going to write a poem today." Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and the words just flow out of me. I'm a night person and I like sitting on my deck at night (we live out in the country) and words come to me. I wrote my poem Like the Moon for one while on my deck at night.

What kind of response have you had from readers? Do people relate well to your book? Have your helped people through your own journey?

The people who have read my book said they loved it. They said that it made them cry, laugh, and made them angry, but most of all it made them think, think about what is going on around them in their own neighborhood and community. That is the response I wanted. I wanted people to open their eyes to what was going on in their own community.

How did you get published?

I sent in the first three chapters of my book and the publisher, PublishAmerica, liked it and sent me a contract.

What books/ideas do you have lined up in future?

I have been thinking of a sequel to my first book, A Rose Blooms Among the Thorns. It has been very strong in my thoughts. I just want to get this book out to the public first before I start on a second one.

Thanks for sharing this with us, Cissy. Interested readers can purchase A Rose Blooms Among the Thorns on Amazon, or visit Cissy's website.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Tribute to Bree O'Mara

Who is Bree O’Mara? I do not know Bree O’Mara personally but I too am a South African author and was shocked and dismayed to hear of her untimely death. South Africa's award-winning author Bree O'Mara is one of at least 10 South Africans who died in a plane crash in Libya on Wednesday.

Ms O'Mara, who also had Irish nationality, was reportedly on her way to London to sign a second book deal. It seems so unfair that at this incredible turning point in her career, a point where she was poised for a richly rewarding writing career, should have been cut short. This was her second attempt to get to London, the first being delayed by the ash cloud from Iceland’s volcanic eruptions. She is among 103 people killed when the plane from Johannesburg's OR Tambo Airport travelling to London's Gatwick Airport via Libya exploded in Tripoli. "[She was an] absolutely fantastic woman who was just full of life and was trying to get to London for quite a while to do some presentations at book shows there," said Radio 702's Eyewitness News sports correspondent Les Faber, who was in her book club.

Ms O'Mara won the 2007 Citizen Book Prize for her book Home Affairs. The award is voted for by the South African public. Her next work, Nigel Watson, Superhero is scheduled for publication in 2010.

So often we take life for granted, never imagining that it could be cut short. When young, we also never imagine growing old, never imagine being unable to realize our dreams and potential. Let us count our blessings, live each day in rich fullness, and make every moment count.

What is Home Affairs all about? For South Africans, the words 'home affairs' conjure up a myriad number of visions. Let's see what Bree's thoughts were in this very witty, brilliantly South African book.

In the Underberg village of Hillman, population 237 (it would have been 238 except the mayor, Dewaldt "Pompies" van Niekerk, was not at home at the time of the last census; he was apparently seeing to some rather pressing matters concerning one of the town's citizens that evening), something has disturbed the peace in the hilltop hamlet. Situated 199½km from Durban (the extra ½km being of critical importance when you wish to distance yourself from city folk), Hillman is having an identity crisis. A debate is raging about whether or not to change the name of the town in line with current political trends. The mayor, surmising that the position of authority he has held since 1982 could be in jeopardy from one Ephraim "Oubaas" Mthethwa, decides to embrace the debate and campaigns to change Hillman’s name to 'Dingaan Berg' in order to win votes on both sides of the fence. Mthethwa wants to change the name to Dingiswayo, stating correctly that Dingaan never actually visited Hillman at any point in history. Sheep farmer and pillar of the community, Kobus van Vouw, wants the town name changed to Jacobusville, in honour of his forebear who brought sheep-farming to Hillman in 1900. Plus he fears that if Mthethwa gets his way the town will become known as "Dinges". Mrs. Eleanor Lambert-Lansdowne, widow of a local sugar-cane baron, wants to keep the name of Hillman because some reminders of a kinder, gentler time must surely remain in this chaotic new world, she argues. Tienkie Groenewald, the postal clerk, doesn't really care so long as the postal codes don't change. Embroiled in a hotbed of infighting and political one-upmanship, the town becomes a dorp divided. When a rumour goes round that wealthy developers are coming to Hillman to build a Sun City-style resort on the mountain, the town is thrown into chaos. Newspaper reporters from as far as Pietermaritzburg and Estcourt descend en masse, and the townsfolk of Hillman have to choose between progress and prosperity or self-preservation.

South Africans will find this book particularly poignant and funny, South Africa having what is often euphemistically described as a 'unique kind of society.'

“I laughed out loud, often and as long as I read my way through this cleverly constructed silliness, enjoying it thoroughly.” – Alan Swerdlow (Actor)

Interested to read more? Home Affairs is available on Amazon.

Publisher: 30 Degrees South Publishers

ISBN: 9781920143190

Friday, May 14, 2010

Find Your Passion: Omegia Keeys Did!

Today I'd like to welcome my sixth guest on the Virtual Book Tour: Omegia Keeys, the author of Passionate Playmates,, and Can You Keep a Secret? (due out early next year). She started out writing short stories about her siblings as a way to keep herself busy when they all moved out the house, leaving her behind. Being the youngest child of seven, she was lonely when all her siblings took off in their own directions. In high school, her English teacher noticed she always had a book to read when she was finished with her studies. Her teacher also started a book club for African American girls. She encouraged the girls to write their own stories and Omegia did just that. In college, Omegia worked part time at Jo Ann’s Books, owned by her mother. While working there, she had plenty of time to read other great authors as well as continuing to write her poems, short stories, and anything to keep the older customers laughing. People soon realized that Omegia had more potential than just being a great track star, but she had yet to realize it. Omegia finally came out of her shell and began working on her first novel in 2002. When she was half way though it, her computer crashed and she lost all of her work. Discouraged and focusing on being a good mother, she did not return to writing her novel again until 2005. She completed Passionate Playmates and submitted it for publication with a great reception at the end of 2006. The novel was released June of 2007. In 2009 Omegia signed with Passionate Writer Publishing and completed her manuscript for which was submitted and released in October of 2009.

Omegia hails from Indianapolis, IN by way of Michigan City, IN. She has three sons. While still focused as a mother and provider, she takes time out to continue her passion for writing and does not plan on stopping.

Let’s take a look at Passionate Playmates
Erika has it all: the good looks, money, fine men, and a job that she dares not tell her father about. Passionate Playmates is an enticing story of a woman’s power over her sexuality in the adult entertainment industry. Erika is more than a sexy woman who can control men with a mere glance—she is an educated woman on a mission. Determined to take care of her son and start her own business, Erika fights to avoid being caught up in the fast life of drugs, prostitution, and of course the vindictive ways of the other entertainers. Follow Erika aka Ecstasy as she mesmerizes her clients with her bold and explicit moves as a dancer in an exclusive lingerie modeling club. This is a behind the scenes view of a multi-million dollar industry guaranteed to keep you intrigued and wondering, what is your passion?

Phew! Omegia, you certainly picked a sizzling topic to kick start your writing career. What inspired the book and your subsequent works?
When I first came up with Passionate Playmates it was me thinking about what I would have done had I not joined the military to provide for my son. Like my character, I went to college earning my BA in Criminology. However, at the time, I was too young to join the FBI. I looked for jobs but it was always the same thing—lack of experience. Because of this, potential employers didn't really want to pay me all that much. I joined the military instead to gain some experience and provide for my family. I picked up the lingerie modeling concept from a bunch of shops in my area getting shut down. The follow up,, was just the natural progression of my main character.

How did you came up with the title(s)?
I wanted something very seductive without using the words “sex” or “strippers” to catch the reader’s eye. For Passionate Playmates it was kind of a spinoff of Playboy and sounds like it would be an adult website. I checked … it’s not!

Who inspired your characters?
Erika is like my alter ego and the people around her a mix of my friends, family, and people I have come across. They all have a mixture of several people.

Writing about passion and erotica—how does this challenge, inspire, and empower you?
It inspires me because it is very sensual without being porn. It’s getting the person in the mood to be with their mate. It empowers me because, as a woman, deep down inside we all want to be that woman of every man’s desire, or at least the man we have.

Thanks for this interesting interview Omegia. I wish you every success in your future books. For more of Omegia and her work visit Omegia's website and publisher site.

You can purchase Passionate Playmates on Amazon.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Readaholic: Author Graham Parke: 2010's only novel without sexy vampires

Readaholic: Author Graham Parke: 2010's only novel without sexy vampires

This is one of the funniest interviews I have read in a long time. In fact, I found it so amusing I just want to rush out and buy Graham Parke's new novel "No Hope for Gomez." I was privileged to be interviewed on Readaholic last year and I enjoy reading about other authors. My only complaint is that the interview is far too short - why, Mr Parkes wasn't asked if there were zombies, werewolves, vampire hunters masquerading as Abraham Lincoln, or any other kind of undead creatures in his novel.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Scott Turow Offers Novel Writing Advice: "Persistence Is Critical"

Scott Turow Offers Novel Writing Advice: "Persistence Is Critical"

This Galleycat note popped into my email box just at the right moment. How many of us have reached a point where you think, "What am I doing this for? I must be mad!" Your life is bound up with a writing project that is all-consuming. You are starting to bore your friends and loved ones with blow-by-blow details of the working of the various characters populating your imaginary landscape ... and then AAAAARGH! You read (yet again) of (yet another) unknown debut author who has arrived on the literary scene with a glittering debut that eclipses even the most elaborate of your success fantasies. You're tired, maybe been working too hard, and now you feel that your goal (fame/fortune/both) is slipping away. You wonder how that darn author managed to find a story so close to your own. You wonder how it is that a genre/theme/topic you were told is now passe suddenly appears as the new flavor of the publishing month? It's crazy, confusing, can be very depressing ... but as the man says, "Persistence is critical!"

I have persisted in my own country (South Africa) where, traditionally, local authors are scorned in favor of overseas ones because somehow there's a weird mentality that if it's imported it must be good and if it's local, it must be sub-standard. However, I now have an interested distributor and things are looking good. Of course he has warned me that sales are usually low for a first-time author, don't get my hopes up etc etc. But my hopes are soaring high!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Books taking on all comers

Books taking on all comers

Maybe the title of this post/link should be why people still like a good old-fashioned read. It seems that despite the inevitable onward march of technology, people of all ages enjoy a 'real' read. Not everyone wants a digital book; people aren't going to dump their beloved books for something electronic. How many readers love to survey their little kingdom called 'my bookshelves?' From tattered old classics that somehow still haven't found their way to the charity donations box, to recently bought, brand spanking new latest releases, to perhaps even a beloved, dog-eared, and well-thumbed copy of Winnie the Pooh, or any of the great kids' books ... will you throw your collection away?

I love my books. I also have a collection of 'antique' books, with red, green, or brown covers, and lots of curly gold writing on the covers. Old lithographs illustrate these gems of yesteryear. Some of my ancient books are over a hundred years old. It seems amazing they have lasted this long. Recently I repainted the house and reorganized my library. I heaved a great sigh when I decided to get rid of an old set of Encyclopedia Brittanica that had guided me through my final year at school, helped me with my university research, and provided endless hours of delightful sidetracking when I became lost in something other than what I'd originally looked up. Oh, they had to go, I guess, now that I can get lots of information off the Internet. I know they'll find a good home at a school where there is a dearth of real books and absolutely no computers.

I love my 'real' books. I have vowed never to go electronic. However, when I had to wait for someone recently I discovered I'd forgotten my book (my real book). I briefly ... very briefly ... thought that if I had an electronic reader ... Then of course I dismissed the thought and bought a newspaper to pass the time waiting!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Rainbow Child & Her Paper Mom

Anyone who has read some of my articles will know that one of my passions in being a children's author is child literacy. I can't imagine any author not being concerned with literacy. Literacy is a skill that has to be learned, and this simple skill can deliver a child from a life of drudgery to a life filled with opportunity. Living in South Africa, I have become so aware of the deficiencies in our education system. The number of final year scholars not making the grade has become worse than alarming. It all starts at home, where children should grow up surrounded by books, and with parents encouraging them to read and discover the wonderful world of books. That's in an ideal world, of course. The truth is that in South Africa, and indeed in many places around the world, "at home" for thousands of children offers no source of education when their parents are either still illiterate, or simply do not have the skills to assist their children with homework. One fifth of South Africa's population is still illiterate. Poverty also means that food comes before books. When South Africa achieved democracy, Nelson Mandela called this country a "rainbow nation." Sadly, there aren't a large number of pots of gold at the end of the rainbow for some children here. But one little girl, my rainbow child, has found her pot of gold. I was recently asked by a great kids' site in Johannesburg, Jozikids, to write about adopting my foster child, Mabel. Here is the story of the rainbow child and her paper mom. I hope it will inspire others to help children read.

The Rainbow Child and Her Paper Mom

I never ever imagined myself as a mother. Growing up with four brothers, three of them younger than me, meant I had my fair share of bottles, nappies, homework, bedtime stories and all the things big sisters do. My studies and career came first for a long time and the men I dated weren’t interested in having kids. Then the biggest drawback of all: I never felt “grown-up enough” to take on the responsibility of my own child. The year I went overseas with my two nephews, the year that inspired my first children’s book, (The Secret of the Sacred Scarab) I suddenly had this desire to adopt a child. Not give birth, please note, but adopt some little mite who needed a home. Two weeks in Egypt with my nephews aged 10 and 12 were enough to rid me of any maternal feelings and make me decide to just stick to being a good aunt. I had changed my mind about children.

About three months after this trip, I had a visit from a domestic worker who had worked for me a few years back—she had a problem. She arrived with her daughter Mabel, now aged eleven. I remembered Mabel as an enchanting child aged six, all arms and legs and a big smile. But I got married, Josephine left my employ, and we didn’t see each other for another five years. Josephine came straight to the point and asked me to foster Mabel so she could get a better education.

Thinking for the briefest of nano-seconds that “nothing would change,” I said yes. Of course, everything changed. I developed maternal feelings worthy of a lioness guarding her cubs from danger. I also became an expert on the shortcomings of our ever-changing education system, the life-cycle of any insect, reptile, or bird you care to mention, and in anything to help my foster child get an education. Mabel had already failed Grade 2, was advised to repeat Grade 4, and was basically illiterate. How is that possible, I asked myself? I began the slow and often painful task of teaching her all over again, supplemented by many extra lessons.

Mabel baulked at first, having never had to apply her mind or develop motivation. She’d been told so many times she was a failure—what else was there to look forward to? I rose to the challenge, and happily for her, so did Mabel. Eight years later, she is scoring 70-80% in most of her subjects, plans to be a writer (just like me!) and is an amazingly well-adjusted, charming, sunny-tempered young lady with a delightful sense of humour. She is a credit to her mother, Josephine, and to me, her Paper Mom (as she calls me, since I am legally her ‘mom’ on paper). I adopted Mabel in February 2009 at the specific request of both her parents, since they believe that with me she will “have a real life.” Those are her mother’s words, one of the bravest women I have ever known, for who else but a brave and unselfish woman would willingly give her child to someone else for that child’s sake. Mabel has a bright future and I am proud to be part of it.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Author Nedyne Shorts Nettles & Poison Reality

I’d like to welcome my fifth Virtual Book Tour guest today: Nedyne Shorts Nettles, who’ll be sharing the hows and whys of her first novel Poison Reality with us.

Nedyne grew up in Los Angeles, California, in a family of three children. She attended Cal State Northridge for three years right out of high school. She is currently attending Argosy University where she will finish her bachelor’s in psychology. Nedyne and her husband Kevin reside in San Bernardino, California, where they have lived for ten years. She is a nurse at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center. She is very proud to be able to present her novel Poison Reality to the world.

Let's look at Poison Reality.
Vierna Bates, a woman scorned, finds herself staying in a hotel the local newspaper labels “a rape den.” She decides to stop bemoaning her pending divorce and venture downstairs to the hotel's club. As fate would have it, something jams the elevator doors open. As she gets closer, she sees the limbs of a person. Still closer she finds a woman, beaten, bloodied, and barely breathing. Unbeknownst to Vierna, the woman in the elevator is an old classmate named Terry Trainer, who happened to be attending a travel and tourism convention in the same hotel that day. Because of Vierna's discovery, Terry survives her attack but vows to not rest until she finds her attacker. Captain Bill Meays, a handsome investigator, finds himself embroiled in a serial rape case involving several women acquaintances. One woman in particular holds the key to solving the puzzle but time is not on his side. This is a spellbinding, heart-stopping saga with the intertwining lives of many echoing the poison reality of life. Life isn’t always harmonious but it is a symphony of bittersweet.

Nedyne took a few minutes out her busy Virtual Book Tour to share some thoughts with us.

Your book Poison Reality is your first foray into publishing and it's quite a contentious topic (abuse/thriller/detective etc). What inspired you a) to write and b) to write this particular story - where did the idea come from?
I love movies that are suspenseful and real. Lately I have seen remakes of everything and I thought that my novel is different. It places my characters in situations that cannot be figured out. It challenges the reader to continue to read.

Your career as a nurse means you get to deal with many people and experience their hurts and their hopes. Has this influenced or increased your ability to tap into people's emotions better?
At the time this novel was written I wasn’t a nurse, I was a home maker. Nursing has definitely giving me a new perspective and also I majored in psychology which will be seen in novels to come.

How do you manage a career and writing? When do you write? How does your family life fit in with your fiction life?
I write part time. It is pleasant escape. My children are grown and my husband is my biggest supporter. He loves to hear about my characters and give input into what should happen to them.

What inspires you—is it music? Places? Other people's writing? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I draw my inspiration from life. You never know what you will see or hear about that will give you that creative edge. I am a people watcher and places like the beach, the mall, work, and past relationships all culminate to help me write my stories.

What other writers do you see as role models, or maybe there’s a person in your life who kicked your butt when you thought you couldn't do it—a mentor and guide?
My mom was my kick in the butt. I had learning disabilities growing up that caused me not to be the brightest bulb in the chandelier but my mom always said it took all the bulbs to make the light glow brightly. She made me believe in myself. It wasn’t about winning the race so to speak, but how well I ran in it. I like ‘for real’ books like books written by Tom Wolfe. One in particular, is The Bonfire of the Vanities. Another great book is Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMIllan and Tara Road by Maeve Binchy. Each of these authors paid attention to realism and wrote a very action oriented book that took the imagination to the same heights as an epic movie. My favorite is by Maeve because she writes her books soap opera style as well.

What was your journey from wanna-be writer to published author?
When I was younger I read a lot of books and I wrote a lot of short stories. I never dreamed that I would be called author because it seemed so unattainable, but here I am. So I want to say to others, tell your story someone will listen.

Is there anything you'd like readers and fans to know about you?
My final thought is that we only have one life to live and we should use it to leave an indelible print on the world. Poison Reality: A Symphony of Bittersweet is my mark. By writing I hope I have inspired others to write. When I was little I said my name should be in lights. And having my name on books just goes to show you nothing is impossible. There is a song that said “If you believe it you can achieve it.”

What's next on your writing agenda?
I have begun to write Poison Reality 2 because I feel the world is ready to read about real life situations.

Thank you for stopping by, Nedyne. I am sure your story is inspiring to others who are just thinking about writing or who perhaps don't feel enough confidence in their abilities to begin.
Thanks for having me.

You can find Nedyne's novel Poison Reality: A Smphony of Bittersweet at PublishAmerica. You can also visit Nedyne's website.

Reader Bonus from Virtual Book Tours: For everyone that leaves a comment with each author, they will be entered into a drawing to win a $25 Visa Gift Card, book light, a free of charge virtual book tour, and one writing package which includes a journal, pen, book light, and book marker.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Do Book Reviews Matter? - The Savvy Book Marketer

Do Book Reviews Matter? - The Savvy Book Marketer

What are your feelings about book reviews? Some people say reviews don't sell more books; some say they do. A few authors feel that a negative review can impact badly on a book; others say no publicity is bad publicity and even a bad review still means your book gets a mention. In this week's guest post on The Savvy Book Marketer, Terry Whalin, the author of numerous books including "Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams," discusses the role of book reviews in publicizing books. He has good advice and some links for finding reviewers. Remember, everything counts when it comes to marketing...