Thursday, December 29, 2011

Decision Made! Work Yet to be Done.

Thanks for bearing with me as I've struggled with publishing Room 1515. Today, I've made that decision. Before I tell you what it is, let me tell you what I've done. First, I've researched. If you go on the net and type in the critical keys words, you can spend days reading about the pros and cons of traditional publishing, self-publishing, and the pay-to-publish houses. I will not say anything bad about any of them. The decision must be yours based on your individual circumstances.

Second, I've tested Room 1515 by submitting it to critique partners and to OWFI's Mystery, Suspense, Thriller Competition where it won 1st. place. The third step was and is the hardest--continuous proofreading and layering. I'm lucky to have a friend who is a great line-by-line editor. I also have a program on my wife's computer called Zoom Text, that is a text to speech reader. I'm using this as my last copy correction, and I'm finding a few errors, even after many revisions. But I will honestly be able to say I've submitted the best work I can.

Fourth, I've built a website using Word Press which I will link to my blog, my Facebook page, and the YouTube trailer I'm in the process of developing. I'm adding pages to website as I go and will open the site to the public a few weeks before Room 1515 comes out. I have many ideas on marketing, but not for this blog entry.

Now, Ta da, I've decided to publish with Book Country, a Division of Penguin Publishing. Room 1515 will come out as an ebook and a paperback approximately seven weeks after I submit the manuscript. The cost to me will be between $500 and $700, depending on what I let them do and what I decide to do myself. I've decide to submit Room 1515 January 9th.

I wish to thank Chuck Sasser, Gloria Teague, Amy Shojai, John Biggs, Lela Davidson, and Carla Stewart for their comments and support. And if I forgot someone. Thank you as well. I'll let you know how things progress.  If you have other suggestions of things I can do before submitting my manuscript, please let me know.

Friday, December 9, 2011

First Things First

I’ve received a volume of input from my blog friends on self-publishing. Some of you cautioned me on the downside of not going the traditional route. Others offered valuable comments on preparing to publish whichever road I choose. They suggest I put everything in place I’ll need to market my book whatever I choose to do.

So I’ve decided to put first things first. I need a website linked with my blog, my Facebook, and the YouTube trailer I intend to create—or have someone create for me. One of the challenges I have is a lack of technical savvy. But I am a natural born marketer, so I’ll be using those skills to develop a marketing plan before my first novel comes out.

Reading all your comments, I realize no one path is right for all people. If I was 25 again, I’d be pulling out all stops (cliché) to find an agent, but I’m not 25. Agents know this as well when they look up during pitch sessions and see my gray hair.

The last agent rejection letter read something like this: “I’ve given serious thought to your work. I admire your creative imagination. But I finally decided to pass. I look at the marketplace today and don’t think I can devote the time it would take to sell it.” This agent had my manuscript five months.

My next steps will be to try a small regional publisher, publish myself, or use a traditional house’s subsidy publisher. Many are buying or creating them, i.e. Writer’s Digest and Penguin. But I have this dilemma. Small regional publishers don’t have the broad scope I’m looking for. Self-publishing has the same problem, plus the time it takes and money. Going the route of a Penguin subsidiary has advantages, except for the back end percentage taken.

If you have personal experience with the above, please share your valuable insights.

Monday, November 28, 2011

To Self-Publish or Not to Self-Publish - The Journey

I've been writing for six years. Why? Because I enjoy writing, but more importantly, I have something worthwhile to say and I want to share my ideas with others. My projects are receiving recognition. I added up my writing statistics. I've won a thriller competition, placed eighth in a Writer's Digest Short Story Contest, published, or am in the process of publishing, five shorts stories where I'm actually being paid. I've finished two novels that are ready for publication and three more in the process of layering. What now?

My writing mentors, all published authors, say, "Bill, you've worked too hard to go the self-publishing route." Well, have I mentioned I've spent--now wait for it--$5,375.00 on workshops, seminars, conferences, and professional editing services. Other writers I know have spent more. I've received fifty-one rejections from agents, most coming in the form of no response. 

The rise of Amazon and Barnes and Nobles' electronic readers have made self-publishing easier. Couple that with the tight economy creating problems for publishing companies, and there is an opportunity for new authors to market their work like never before. But the work has to be exceptional. So here is a question I'd like feedback on for my readers. In your opinion, what are the three major drawbacks to self-publishing?

Join me over the next few months as I share my journey, To Self-Publish or Not to Self-Publish. Please, sign up to follow my blog and receive automatic posts.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Welcome John Biggs - 2011 Writer's Digest Winner

I’m a huge fan of John Biggs’ writing. We’ve been cheerleaders for each other since we met at a Bill Bernhardt seminar a few years ago. John is shy until you get to know him. He possesses a sense of humor to die for and weaves it through his character portrayals like fine threads in a tapestry. OWFI and Writer’s, Readers, and Critiques are proud to have John as a member. Let’s welcome the winner of Writer’s Digest’s 2011 Short Story Competition, John Biggs. (Your eyes are not deceiving you. The picture of John was taken in a Mexican graveyard! For those of us who love him, that's not surprising.)

I appreciate the fine threads in a tapestry simile, Bill. Your introductions are always eloquent.

How long have you been entering writing contests like Writer’s Digest and The Lorian Hemingway? How close have you come to winning before this year?

I started entering short fiction competitions about a year after I made my first attempt at a novel—about nine years ago. I had some wins from ByLine, which is now defunct, and OWFI, and a lot of honorable mentions from Writers of the Future. I also had a couple of stories in the top 100 in last years Writer’s Digest competition. The reason I started entering contests is so somebody—anybody—would read what I wrote. Many of the literary magazines and most of the professional (5,000 plus circulation) magazines get thousands of submissions and don’t read past the first few lines of work from an unknown writer.

Did you enter your Writer’s Digest winning story in the Lorian Hemingway competition? How did that story fare—and vice versa?

That question shows a lot of incite into how much luck plays a role in winning a literary prize. I entered the same three stories in both contests. Writer’s Digest awarded me the grand prize for “Boy Witch”, and Lorian Hemingway awarded me third place for “Soul Kisses”, but the judges had no overlap at all. No honorable mention or top 100 honors for the winning stories in opposing competitions.

It must help if the judge is in a good mood when your entry comes up.

Writer’s Digest has interviewed you presumably for their next issue. How difficult did you find that experience?

That interview was an e-mailed set of questions with a one week deadline to respond, so it wasn’t all that stressful. I’ve never actually met Melissa Wuske, my Writer’s Digest contact. We’ve traded a couple of voice mail messages, but I’ve never actually talked to her.

This year is a banner year for you, John. You have a story coming out in Storyteller Magazine as well. To what do you attribute your new found success, persistence, a change in attitude, a newly discovered technique that works for you?

Persistence has to be the main thing. I’ve looked over these stories to try and figure out if there is anything about them that makes them different from my other work. If there is, I can’t find it. I’ve submitted more stories this year than I ever did before, and I’ve finally found some editors who like them.

I want to mention a couple of people who are very good contacts for beginning writers. You introduced me to Regina Williams at the last OWFI meeting. She is the editor of Storyteller Magazine, and publishes a large number of first time submissions. I probably would never have submitted anything to her without your introduction, and now, I have a story coming out in the July/August/September edition. Regina is also publishing “Soul Kisses” in the October/November/December edition.

Dusty Richards is another valuable contact. He is a western genre writer and publishes anthologies of short stories and even novels by new writers. I have one story coming out in his Cactus Country I anthology, and another in Cactus Country II. Dusty is very accessible and is a regular at OWFI. He had a call for submissions in Carolyn Leonard’s e-zine, Writers Reminder.

The last time we talked, you indicated you were going to concentrate on writing short stories for awhile. Having two major trophies for your resume, are you planning on dusting off those novels and looking for an agent while the iron is hot? (Cliché) lol.

Part of the Writers Digest grand prize is meeting with agents and editors in New York City, so I am definitely going to dust while the iron is hot. I am working on a new novel currently, which I hope to show somebody. I’ve structured it so far so that chapters stand alone—drawing on my experience with short fiction. That probably won’t be possible to maintain as the plot thickens. (Cliché back at you).

I’ve asked each person I’ve interviewed about the current marketplace for novels. With Kindle, Nook, and social networking, marketing your own material is easier than it was in the past. I’m personally torn between holding out for an agent or jumping in and doing my own marketing. I find some gems in the self-published world. But overall, I believe the quality is woefully lacking, what’s your opinion?

I agree completely. Where my own work is concerned, I’ve looked at old stories and novels I thought were fantastic at the time, but now I find them a little bit embarrassing. It’s also true there are a lot of really good self-published books available, and some really rotten books represented by agents and New York publishers.

The thing that most discourages me from doing my own marketing is—dare I admit it—laziness. I’m a terrible salesman, don’t meet people well, and am easily discouraged. Some people can market well, but I can’t.

How are your wife and family taking your success? Are you planning another Viking Cruise?

We’ve got a couple of ocean cruises planned—one this year and one next year—but no river cruises are currently in the works. As an aside, I wrote “Boy Witch” on a Holland America cruise. Short fiction fits in well with travel and limited attention spans.

What advice can you give to those who haven’t achieved recognition and the agent rejections are piling up?

Keep on submitting. It always hurts to put your heart and soul into something and receive a rejection—or no response at all—for your trouble. Take Prozac and keep writing.

Put things aside for weeks or even months and then rewrite and revise.

Attend workshops and listen to what other writers have to say about your work. My experience with you, your wife Pam, and others in our critique group has made all the difference in my work.

Remember that luck is key to getting something published. After you have a couple of things to put on the bio portion of your cover letter, editors might actually read past the first paragraph.

You’ve shared some great information. I’m sure our readers will gain confidence from you.

It’s always good to talk to you, Bill. You provide a great forum, especially for writers who are just starting on the journey.

Thanks John, watch for John’s interview in the Writer’s Digest after October.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

An Interview with Gisela Sedlmayer

Today I have the unique pleasure of welcoming Gisela Sedlmayer to my blog site. Her Talon series hit home for me on several levels. By way of introduction, Gisela grew up in Germany, married an Australian, has lived in New Zealand, and now resides in Queensland, Australia. She is a cancer survivor and mother to two adopted Indian girls from the island of Fiji. Please welcome, Gisela Sedlmayer.

Thank you, Bill, for giving me the opportunity to express myself here. I appreciate that very much.

In your unique story, Talon, Come Fly with Me, a nine year old girl, who’s only a little taller than a two-year old, befriends a pair of condors and ends up raising their offspring from an egg. The sages say we write what we know. To me this story lifts the human spirit. How did you take your life’s experiences and create this idea?

I am happy to hear that my story lifts the human spirit. But when I started to write the story, it didn’t occur to me that it would. After I survived a deadly disease, I couldn’t go to work anymore. My husband said, “Why not start writing again, you loved it.” Yes, I was writing animal short stories in my early life. Nothing was done with them, but I loved writing them. Why not again?

So I wrote some short stories, this time for competitions. I didn’t win first prize, but I was highly commended. One of those stories was about Matica and Talon. Out of that short story I developed the novel and then a series. I realized that a lot of the things I wrote about Matica came from my life—particularly the rejection. I never thought I could write about rejection. But it fitted so wonderfully.

In my early life, I experienced rejection. Not in the way Matica did, I didn’t have her growth-challenge, but I had other things. I was always shy and didn’t really fit in. I was standing outside looking in when all the other children were playing. My parents loved me, but they never found out, that I had speech dyslexia. I have never learned to carry on a good conversation.

So in a way, Matica is me. She experienced what I went through. She talks and thinks like me.

My father had to move to where his work was. So my life was disrupted. We moved around Germany from one city to the next. I changed schools nine times. When I’d just made a friend, I would lose that friend. So in the end, I stopped trying to make friends anymore.

I wasn’t bullied in school, but I know that many children who are bullied in school commit suicide. My husband and I know that first-hand. We have adopted Indian twin-girls from Fiji. For the most part, they were accepted, particularly in our church. But when I went shopping with the girls, some people always looked at us strangely, with the look on their faces that said: How can you do something like that? Or similar.

I say: Children with special needs, with disabilities, or with handicaps, don't have an illness. So there is no cure and it's not contagious. They want what we all want—to be accepted.

And that is what my book, Talon, Come Fly With Me, is all about, not only the first book, all the books in the series.

I believe every reader can relate to what you’re saying. When a writer connects with the emotions they felt in their past, and then places those emotions into their characters, the writing itself soars. Thanks for sharing.

A question raised by your book, and the others in your series, has to do with the misunderstanding humans have about other living creatures. How do we learn the true purpose of the creatures around us? How do we save the endangered species so valuable to our planet? Was one of your purposes when you developed this story to raise the reader’s awareness of this problem?

I didn’t think about that in the beginning. It came to me in the middle of writing the first book. I wrote mostly about Matica, the rejection she felt, and how she could overcome her loneliness and be the person she wanted to be. She had a lot of love and she couldn’t give it to anyone. Yes, to her parents and her brother Aikon, but she had no friends. She wasn’t even allowed to play with the Indian children in the community where they lived in Peru.

But then I thought about the condors. They are an endangered species, so I might be able to help them by writing the story about Matica and Talon, the condor. I wanted to make people aware that there are actually living, wonderful majestic birds. And they are worthy to be saved. Make them aware that poachers are doing so much damage in the animal kingdom.

When I read about the poachers, I thought about the highland gorillas and the elephants whose lands numbers are shrinking to human greed and superstition. Authors have a role to speak for them.

Are the characteristics Matica possesses similar to your own adopted girls?

No, my girls never really had that problem, we made sure about that. Those characteristics are my problems, the rejections I faced in life. As I said earlier, I went through most of them myself. I was rejected. I couldn’t speak properly.

Comments made about Talon on Amazon emphasize the appeal of your story to ages 9 through 99. To what do you attribute such a broad audience?

Being an animal story, I wrote for children at first from the age they could read books. But then, thinking about Matica and her afflictions, her problems, her rejections, I realized the book was for every age. Talon is for people going through similar things Matica did, rejection, or other problems they might have. So they can read the story and can learn to get a “Condor”, as Matica did. Not literally finding a condor, it’s a figure of speech. As my “Condor” is now writing. I am slowly receiving recognition and good reviews about my book. So I hope to find a publisher who will publish my books.

Every person should look for something they can do to express themselves. That may be writing, art, facing physical challenges, but something they can achieve to gain acceptance and be the person they want to be.

Let’s talk about the whole realm of self-publishing. You chose BookPal in Brisbane, Australia as your publisher. Why did you make that decision?

After I finished writing the first novel about Matica and Talon, I wrote query letters and sent my manuscript to several conventional publishers here in Australia. And guess what? I always got that rejection letter back. I tried for many years. I failed.

So I looked up all the self-publishers here in Australia and decided to let my book be published by BookPal. At that time, they were new here in Australia and weren’t as expensive as the rest. They did a very good job with the designing of the cover page. They did the outlaying of the book, everything. They also wrote a press release and did the distribution. My book is now available at all bookstores and all Internet outlets as ebook, and on Kindle at

When my second novel in the Talon series was finish, Talon, On The Wing, I approached them again. What horror, they’d become too expensive. That’s why I am looking for a conventional publisher now. But I am not approaching them. I hope they will find me.

Ah, popularity unfortunately increases price. So BookPal must be doing well. There is always a direct correlation. Until you mentioned the price increase, they seemed to be the answer for many good authors, particularly with their aid in marketing. They still may be for those who can afford them. Some writers may be able to afford price increases as a cost of doing business. Others may not.

You’ve been highly successful in publicizing your work. How many of your interviews did you set-up by yourself, and how many were generated by BookPal?

BookPal booked view book signings for me around the Gold Coast. They also arranged a radio interview with 2 NM in Hunters Valley, New South Wales. I believe the interview went well, but I never heard from anyone on how well it went.

I also booked a lot of book signings around the Gold Coast myself. They always went very well. Then I got into Facebook. Here I advertise my book as well and all the reviews and interviews I am getting now are from Facebook.

On Facebook I approached people who did author interviews and asked if they would interview me about my book. They did. A few asked me if they could do an interview with me as well. I love that.

How much influence has your Christian faith had in the direction and content of your novels?

Actually, not as much as I thought it would. Well, Matica’s parents are missionaries and were sent from their church in Australia to Peru. They followed the call and went. The influence is in what I don’t write. I try to write to show everything in a positive way—never letting the negative overtake me.

What advice can you give an unpublished author on marketing their work for publication?

It is not easy to get into the publishing world, as I have found out firsthand. But I say, never give up. If you give up now, you’ll never know what might be just around the corner. Just write on. It will happen. One day, you will be discovered. As I hope to be discovered. I’ve been writing now for the last 15 years and trying to get into conventional publishing houses. I know it will happen one day. But with this business, you definitely need patience. Stay positive. Be persistence. It will happen.

My book is now available in all the Internet outlets. Also you can buy my book from my website:

Thank you, Gisela. I wish you continued success.

Thank you, Bill, for giving me the opportunity to express myself.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

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Interview with Karen Crumley

My wife and I met Karen Crumley at the OWFI banquet. Karen and Pam struck up a conversation about a book they were publishing. The book is a work of fiction. But the reality is: this fiction could turn into fact in a heartbeat. Karen and Jim are nice people. They’ve experienced a different slice of life than most of us city slickers.

I’m pleased to introduce Karen Crumley.

Thank you so much, Bill. I am very happy and honored to be featured on your blog!

Karen, sell our readers on why we should buy Weapon of Jihad. Sell the book to us as if you were pitching to an agent.

As Americans, we are becoming increasingly aware that we have definite enemies who would love to defeat us. Until recently, we were considered to be such a super power that nobody could dare attack. We suffered the folly of this mentality on 9/11. Since then, the world has become even more dangerous for us. We work hard to avoid terrorism and we must constantly do diplomatic posturing to counter a growing threat of nuclear attack.

But what if the weapon of choice was not a bomb? What if it was a postcard….laced with smallpox? What if these postcards were to be sent to one-third of the American families? And what if, after the epidemic has softened us up, a military attack was to be deployed across our southern borders? And what if the goal of that military attack was to bring the United States to her knees?

This is the story told in Weapon of Jihad. You say, “Nobody could ever pull that off!” Unfortunately, that statement would be false. The plot in this book was evaluated by the Air Force and they stated that it was, sadly, entirely too possible. Yes, we have enough vaccine for about half of our population. But it is all in Atlanta. Did you witness the H1N1 vaccine fiasco? How long did it take to get vaccine to your town? With smallpox, you have a four-day window between exposure and it’s just too late. We all know it would be impossible to distribute that vaccine that fast, especially when the entire nation is in the throws of a crippling epidemic. The virus would go through the population like a wildfire.

Weapon of Jihad is the story of such an attack and of the response mounted by a scattered remnant of brave Americans.

Wondering about a pandemic through natural germ evolution is scary enough. Add a planned event by America’s enemies, and the possibilities are eerie. You have a degree in microbiology. That gives you a keen insight as to whether an event like you describe is possible. What other sources did you use to validate your suspicions?

Yes, the questions brought up by this book began while I studied microbiology at Texas Tech University. The university is multicultural and there were many students there who were from other countries. In my classes, I noticed many students from Iran. What I observed was that there were two different types of Iranian students. Some were open and friendly to Americans. They enjoyed our culture and made friends with us. Others, on the other hand, hated Americans. They wanted nothing to do with us. I had a job that required that I work with one such Iranian. He would not even look at me and only spoke when he was forced to do so. I had two strikes against me. I was a woman and I was an American.

Shortly after I finished my studies at Tech, the Ayatollah called all of these microbiology students back home to Iran. These people had sat in my classes. They knew what I knew. What was the Iranian government going to have these people doing?

Then, after I had my first son, I went to start his immunizations. I noticed that smallpox was not on the list. When I asked why this was so, I was told that smallpox had been eradicated. In my mind, I knew that within twenty years or so smallpox would make a great biological weapon because most of our fighting force would be completely unprotected.

Then, when I began to research for the book, I was appalled to find that the possibilities were much worse than I could have imagined. We were wide open for an attack. The delusional opinion that nobody would ever attack us was a major problem. When the USSR was dissolved, the biological weapon research facility they had been running was simply deserted. A former employee of theirs who had become an American went to check on the facility. He found missing stocks of multiple biological weapons and about six guards who had not been paid in a year. Hmmm. So, all of our enemies now have stocks of smallpox, including Iran and North Korea.

The book was based on way too much fact, which is why some of it came true on 9/11. Fiction based on fact has a way of becoming prophecy.

The thought came to me about a situation I experienced. I was researching the differences between Sunni and Shiite views on the web for a novel I’m writing. After a week, I began to receive emails in Arabic from sources I didn’t know. Did this happen to you, and if so, how did you react?

Oh, yes! We had a web site called Weapon of On this site, readers could sign in and leave comments. There must be many people out there who cannot read English very well. They thought we wanted to do a jihad. They asked how they could help. They even invited us to join their group to do a jihad! On 9/11, the comments made me sick! “Good Job!” etc. was all they could say. I had had enough. I called the FBI and handed the web site over to them. I told them it might help to find some of the terrorists. I still have the contact they gave me in case I knew anything else.

Your husband worked for the USDA and ranched along the Texas border, a place that is becoming more dangerous day-by-day. You’ve since moved. Was it because of the hostility there?

Actually, we moved to come help run the family ranch after we retired. But, I do not miss the hostility. We had our house on a ranch broken into three different times. We found loaded automatic clips in the pasture. I never went out without my gun. We bought two very large, black Great Danes and the robberies stopped. We would find pieces of shirts that did not belong to us in the yard.

When we moved, we brought the dogs. They are bored now….nobody to chase. My friends who still live there tell me it has gotten much worse and that most of it’s not covered on the major news outlets.

My wife and I love each other dearly, but we’re not thinking of coauthoring a book. The two of you wrote Weapons of Jihad together. And you’re still married! What part did each of you play in collaborating?

Yes, we are still married….but it was very interesting while we were writing the book. One of the biggest fights we ever had was over the fact that he wanted to kill off my favorite character. After a while, I saw his point and the guy got beheaded.

We often talk about how we are so opposite. The plot is mine. I must be paranoid or something, but I can throw out a plot over anything. Some strange thing will happen and, before you know it, my writer brain will make a lot to do over nothing.

I wrote the book first and then had him read it. He told me that I needed this and that. I did not really want to do this and that with it, so he jumped in and added his wonderful characters. The General is his character and he did all the war scenes. If you think all the gory stuff was his, think again. I was dealing with three teenagers at my house at the time. They would infuriate me over something and I would go kill off a bunch of people.

Tell us why you’ve republished this book after so many years, and what is Purple Sage Publishers?

We republished this book at this time because much has changed in the world since we wrote it the first time. At the time of the first writing, we only had thirty thousand doses of old vaccine available. Now, we have enough to vaccinate half of our population. This is a false security though because it could never be distributed in time to help at all. When we wrote the book, we put in a completely fictional government for Iran and Iraq. At the time, Saddam was in power. We had taken Saddam out and wrote in that Iraq would become a puppet government under Iran. As we watch, this is all forming up the way we wrote it. We really did not mean to write prophecy!

It is my hope to influence the government with this book to at least distribute the vaccine to regional outlets. It is just stupid to leave it where it is. I would love for this story to become a movie or to have enough people to read it so that there could be a public demand for moving the vaccine.

Purple Sage Publishing is our publishing house. We fully intend to publish more books, especially now that we are retired and “not busy”.

At OWFI you attended a workshop on how to put your novel on Kindle. I understand after the workshop you actually went to your room and published on Kindle. That’s amazing. For us technically challenged, how hard was that to do?

I could hardly believe it myself! Of course, most of the credit for this has to go to my friend, Wendy Pausewang. I dragged her along to OWFI. She was interested in beginning to write. But, she just happens to have a degree in computer science. In fact, she was the best student of her class. So, when we went to the workshop, we took notes and she just kept saying, “Oh, this is easy.” We decided to have a lab on it. I had the file for Weapon of Jihad ready, so we just followed the instructions and threw it onto Amazon as an ebook. She did make it look easy! Now, we are putting it into CreateSpace so I can also sell it as a paperback. I will tell you that I could probably have done it myself but it would have taken a bit longer that the eight hours it took us together.

Do you have another novel in process? If so, when will you have it finished?

Well, of course! I’m a writer! Actually, I have two other nonfiction books that are finished and ready to publish. I will be attacking that as soon as I finish with Weapon of Jihad.

One is called Big Brown Box in the Brush-So You Want to Live in the Country. It is my story of being a city girl who is thrown into country life. Did you ever watch Green Acres? Well, I broke into choruses of that song on a regular basis when I lived on the ranch. It has chapters like Snakes, Critters, Bugs, Ranch Kids and it is written in Erma Bombeck style. The truly sad thing is that there is not an ounce of fiction in the book. I actually survived all of the fun events in that book, even being shot by a potato gun. It is why I am who I am.

Another book is called Growing Up Weird- Confessions of a Closet Medium. It is the story of a woman who, through many instances of being surprised by her gift, has become more experienced and wishes to pass on her wisdom to her grandchildren who are also showing the gift.

The book I am presently writing another fiction book called The Hole in the Sky. It is a good vs. evil story. I describe it as a Stephen Kingish Christian thriller. When I wrote the opening chapter, I placed it in a certain place on our ranch. After I wrote it, I could not go to that place at night without being creeped out. So, I scared myself! I guess that is good. Well, Stephen King scared himself too. I don’t know what that says about me. But I really do enjoy writing things that send a chill down a reader’s back.

In conclusion, what advice can you give aspiring authors about marketing and publishing their books in today’s environment?

I have tried finding agents and publishers. It is a game in itself. But, I enjoy writing, not playing games like that. Let me see. I write a query letter. IF the agent or publisher is in a good mood when they read it, they ask for the first fifty pages. Once again, IF the publisher is in a good mood, they will ask for the rest of it. EVEN IF they like it, they want you to change it into something else that they want. When they finally decide it is right, it will still take three years to get it onto the bookshelves. They price it so high that nobody can buy it. I still have to do the promotion. I make 30%.

OR….I can write what I want, be sure it is good and corrected, and put it up on Amazon. I get to write what I want to say and it gets published and for sale within a few days. I can price it low enough to be affordable by many more readers. After all, that is why I wrote it. I want it to be read by many people. I still have to do the promotion, but I get 70%.

Why would I want to do anything but use Amazon? Oh, it would be a feather in my cap of some kind to be published by a big publisher. But, that is not why I write. I just want it to be read. Of course, I realize that this is my own opinion. All writers should pursue their own goals.

You’ve stated the dilemma I’ve struggled with for four years. On one hand, I want to be recognized as a writer of quality fiction. I’ve viewed having an agent and being published by a major house and a symbol of quality. But the new world of publishing has opened up an avenue to place a novel into the hands of readers quickly and efficiently. And I agree with you. You still have to do most of the marketing yourself regardless of which way you go.

Thank you for sharing Weapon of Jihad with us. I’m sure the book will open a lot of eyes.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog. I enjoyed visiting with you about our experiences in writing. I look forward to reading more from you in the future!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

An Interview with Gloria Teague

Interviewing Gloria Teague is a pleasure for me, because I respect her and think she’s one of the most fun-loving people I know. I first met Gloria at the Tulsa Night Writers almost three years ago. She’s one of those people you like being around. She’s also one terrific writer. When I heard she had a new book on the market, I asked her to do an interview, and she agreed.

Congratulations on being asked to do a sequel of Beyond the Surgeons Touch. How did that come about? And tell us about AWOCBooks.

Thanks! I’m enjoying writing Safe in the Heart of a Miracle even though it’s proving a bit more difficult than its predecessor.

The acronym AWOC stands for A Whole Other Country, based out of Texas, which explains where the publisher got the name. It’s a small press operated by Dan Case, a great hands-on publisher, available whenever I need to run something by him, or, poor man, whenever I need to gripe. He’s patient, fair, and shoots straight from the hip. The company publishes books from mysteries to inspirational books.

Gloria, you’ve published several full length novels and short story books. How do you decide what venue you’ll use to take your work to the marketplace? Which has been the most successful for you?

Like most authors, I slid into home plate with Kindle. It just seemed the natural “next step” after already having sold so many books through my publisher. What better venue to reach the entire world? Once I learned how to format my work I went hog crazy. I was amazed I could actually sell short stories and I cleaned out a file folder that I’d filled over the years. I have posted my latest book on Nook but I’m not as comfortable with it yet. I plan on putting my work on Smashwords and any other site I can find.

So, if I understand you correctly, you’ve never had an agent taking your material around the eighty-plus publishing houses on their circuit, rather you’ve chosen to enlist your own associates and creative marketing talents. What venues do you use: blogs, webpage, book store signings, social media?

No, I’ve had two agents which were the stuff nightmares are made of. (Yep, I ended that one with a preposition!) One put together a catalogue of books he represented and just sent the whole thing to publishers. Hello? That wasn’t going to work but he kept dragging it out for six months. The second one was the most prolific liar I’ve ever met, going so far as to tell me that Tom Hanks was reading one of my manuscripts. Can you imagine the hurt and disappointment when I realized everything she said was untrue? So now no agents, just little ol’ me. I read everything, pay attention to any small detail that may lead to getting published. I look at the rack at the check-out stand. That’s where I got the epiphany to submit to Women’s World. When they called, I nearly passed out. I pay attention when another author says, “I just got published in XXX!” Then I start doing research. Do I write the material they want? Can I write the material they want? Sometimes friends will send me a lead about where to submit. And then there are the repeat sales to the same company, some buying my work since 1995. Then I start telling everyone about the sale, via my blog, my Facebook page (I love FB for promoting!), on Twitter, leave a business card with someone that likes to read, tell them about my latest book/story. I schedule speaking engagements always followed with a book signing. I speak to any group that needs a speaker; I contact libraries and tell them I’m available to speak to their Friends of the Library group, etc. I’ve learned that networking is exceedingly important in this field. I also try to help my fellow authors because I think that’s what we should do.

You are a cross genre author, having successfully published in more than one. From the realm of the miraculous in Beyond the Surgeons Touch and Miracles Beyond Medicine, to nostalgia in Saturday Night Cocoa Fudge, to the edgy Innocence Sacrificed and Evil Transgressions, you produce quality work. Is there a method as to what genre you write and when?

How kind of you, Bill! I write in whatever genre fits my mood when I’m sitting at the computer. At the moment I’m currently working on the sequel to the book about miracles to one about a serial killer to yet another paranormal romance. I’ve been told by those who think they know the biz that authors shouldn’t write in so many different genres, that we should focus on one and make a name for ourselves within that genre. Writing across genres has always worked for me and my mind doesn’t grow stale or bored. I started writing because it was fun; why stop enjoying it now?

You publish under Gloria Teague and G.T. Everett. I think you added G.T. Everett sometime in late 2009. Why? And how do you decide which name to use?

GT Everett actually came into existence this year with Evil Transgressions. The reason is simply those different genres you mentioned. GT is all mine, no one has any input into what I write under that pseudonym, and I just let my imagination soar with him/her, another reason to use initials-no one knows the author’s gender. Teague is the kind, funny author; Everett is my “dark side.”

Your newest book is Evil Transgressions. The book is enticingly sinister. Sell us on why we should buy it. What makes it a ‘can’t put down’ read.

Evil Transgressions is about the age-old battle between good versus evil. We all know who the good guy is, we all know who will be victorious, but this book takes you on an unexpected ride to reach the conclusion. I love it when a reader tells me, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming!” Donovan Desmond is the achingly gorgeous devil who falls in love with a mortal, something that shocks even him, and he loves her so much that when she realizes his true nature and wants to escape, he allows her to leave…for awhile. He will grant her time to remember the love he gave her and come back to him. If she refuses to do so, he’ll go after her. You know how that’s going to go but you may be surprised how the encounter unfolds. I dislike predictability and I’ve tried to avoid that with a passion in this book.

Well, I’m sure our readers are sold. Amazon here they come. The publishing world is turned on its head right now. Where once an author had few options, we now have so many it’s becoming confusing. Where do you think the most opportunity for strong sales lies?

Without a doubt, at this moment, eBooks are the big thing and will be, I think, for quite some time. I still hear the old diehards that say, “I still want to hold a book in my hand, dog-ear the pages if I want; I’ll never get an electronic reader.” As a royalty-paid author, I applaud those people because I make more money through the print sales, but I’m a realist. Even libraries will be more electronic-based book loaners than print copies soon.

My wife, a Kindle lover, bought me a new one after having such a good experience with hers. I love my Kindle. What advice can you give an aspiring author, who has been rejected on a hundred queries, has been encouraged and then letdown by a variety of agents, and has been recognized by fellow writers as a quality performer?

I’ve struggled with this for years. Even those of us that make money at our craft suffer with rejection and disappointment. I’ve gotten enough rejection letters to wallpaper my office. If becoming a published author is your dream, you have to believe in yourself. You keep practicing your craft, getting better all the time, and pay attention to why you’re being rejected. If you’ve submitted something fifty times and it’s been rejected fifty times, rethink what you’ve written. Edit it, iron out the wrinkles. If you can’t develop a tough hide, maybe writing isn’t going to work out for you. But if it’s your dream, work toward realizing it.

Thank you, Bill, for the interview. Thank you for offering a hand up to current and future writers!

Thank you, Gloria. I believe authors and lovers of our craft should promote the good writing of others as hard as we promote our own.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Interview with Lela Davidson

An Interview with Lela Davidson

We’re re-running our new author series again in 2011, from the week of July 4th through the week of September 30th. Our first author, Lela Davidson, has her first book coming out on July 12th. There will be a big book launch party at the Aloft Hotel in Rogers, Arkansas, between 7 and 9 p.m.

Lela brings fresh look at the complex roles of women in America today. She also has built a platform for her writing that each of us in Writers, Readers, and Critiques can learn from. Welcome, Lela Davidson

Thank you, Bill

Publishing today is easy. Selling enough to make money is a process. In your answers to the following questions, I’d like you to concentrate on how you built your platform to success.

Before you ventured out with Blacklisted from the PTA, you became a strong net presence with After the Bubbly. Let our readers know about that venue and how it helped build your platform.

After the Bubbly is my personal blog. I play with ideas there that are too long to post on Facebook, but not necessarily something I want to work into a full-length essay. The blog helped me in the beginning to learn about online writing and social media. Now it helps me keep in touch with readers.

Along with, After the Bubby, you’re managing editor of Parenting Squad and associate editor of Peekaboo Magazine, a modern day guide to parenting in Northwest Arkansas. I can see the direction you’re going and the audience you’re playing to. These are free to the public, yet increase your visibility and web presence, tell us how they came about.

One of the owners of Parenting Squad was the Editor at a now defunct website that gave me my very first regular column online – After the Bubbly. We stayed in touch. I started writing for Parenting Squad, and when the Managing Editor position opened up, I applied and got the job. Peekaboo magazine is our local RPP (Regional Parenting Publication). When she started the magazine, the publisher took a chance and gave me space. After the Bubbly graduated to print. After a few months I started writing another column in the magazine. Chasing Date Night provides ideas for local date nights and profiles local couples. Now I represent the magazine on a local morning news show—Wake Up with 5NEWS. I guess you could say I’m a local favorite.

Lela, that’s great exposure, you’re writing an active blog, have magazine exposure, and television with the Fort Smith/Fayetteville, CBS affiliate, whose executive said, “The magazine is a big part of the parenting community in Northwest Arkansas and a great fit for our morning broadcast.” Exposure means sales!
You selected Jupiter Press, and imprint of Wyatt-MacKenzie, to publish After the Bubby. They’re located in Washington State. Isn’t that where you’re from? Did you use personal connection to develop your strategy here, or is your selection of Jupiter Press a coincidence?

Wyatt-MacKenzie is actually located in Oregon, and the connection came through another author I know who had published a similar book of personal essays. I chose the imprint program offered by Wyatt-MacKenzie for a number of reasons, but mostly because it offered me a great deal of control over almost every aspect of the process, and the ability to benefit from the knowledge of an experienced traditional publisher. The imprint program is a self-publishing option, so I put up the capital to produce and market the book. It was a decision I agonized over, but ultimately analyzed it as I would any other business decision and determined that this was the best step at this stage of my career.

Pay attention here readers. Even with a platform and great exposure, the decision you make: self-publish, co-publish, go strictly e-book, etc. is a business decision, and a different one for every writer.

With the advent of Kindle, Nook, and who knows what’s to follow, the conventional path to publishing looks to be flipped upside down. You seem to have developed a great way to hit the new market. Kudos to you, Lela. Now sell us your book. Pitch to us like you would an agent. Why should I go to Amazon and download Blacklisted from the PTA to my Kindle? Or pick it up in paperback?

Well, I hope you’ll buy a paperback and a Kindle edition! Blacklisted from the PTA is a fun read. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s relatable. And it makes people laugh. (Not just my mother and that Mary Kay lady who keeps trying to get me to redeem my free facial.) Just check out the comments on the Facebook page.

Between diapers, play dates, and a never-ending schedule of birthday parties, it’s a wonder parents have time and energy to procreate. Throw in cliquish PTA queens, complex neighborhood politics, and the fine art of lawn maintenance, and you start to understand why suburban parents actually crave quiet desperation—so long as it comes with a nap.

In Blacklisted from the PTA I take you to Mexican bars, the hockey rinks of St. Louis, ski slopes near Santa Fe, shopping in Dallas, and even introduce you to a few strippers—the novices on the playgrounds of New York City, and the pros in Vegas. I reveal my screw-ups, along with fleeting delusional moments when I honestly believe I am the best mom ever.

And did I mention each of the 62 essays can be read in under five minutes? This is proving to be a very popular feature.

My wife thinks you could become the new Erma Bombeck with your sense of humor and your writing style. After reading your Facebook page, I think others feel that way too.

You’re a mom, a wife, a writer, and work the web constantly. Your subject matter is edgy at times, yet with a lighthearted humor that makes your comments fit. How do your husband, your kids, and your parents react to your work?

My husband has surrendered. I’m fairly certain the blog and magazine column boosted his social capital and he recently asked for a copy of the book to give his boss. He’s fine with the writing, but hates when someone introduces him as Mr. Lela. My teenage son has asked me not to write about him anymore, but my 11-year-old daughter still gets excited when I do. Sometimes sibling rivalry kicks in and The Boy gives me the okay, so long as I don’t run his picture. My parents just like to brag. It’s not like I’m tackling Big Topics. I write about the little frustrations of everyday life, of the foibles of my friends and family, but I like to think I’m not mean about it.

Finally, you and I have known each other for awhile. We both work our butts off writing and perfecting our craft. What piece of advice would you give to the unpublished newbie looking awestruck at the huge amount of work this career really takes?

I don’t think the newbie realizes the amount of work it takes. And that there’s a steep curve. It used to take me weeks to craft a readable essay. Now I can probably bust one out in an hour if I really need to. If you’re lucky, after a while you find out what you’re good at and get into a consistent rhythm. Then, if you’re crazy-fortunate, you catch some momentum and things start moving quickly. That’s where I am right now, and I can tell you it takes just as much work to maintain this success as it did to build it. However, it’s a lot more fun interviewing celebrities and booking travel for TV appearances than it was scouring Craigslist for sub-minimum wage gigs.

Thanks Lela for your honesty in sharing your journey with us. I urge our readers to reward Lela by purchasing her new book. And Lela, I hope you don’t mind if I continue to reply to your blog and Facebook comments with a little barb expressing the male point of view when you misunderstand us. Thanks for being our guest author this week.

Thanks for having me, Bill. And that’s – Blacklisted from the PTA. Everyone needs at least three copies

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Success at OWFI Conference

There's a saying, "You're not a writer until other writers say you are." Room 1515 won 1st place in the Mystery, Suspense, Thriller Category and 3rd in the Confession Story Category with On The Streets.

But most important, my wife, Pam, placed 3rd in Contemporary Romance with her first attempt at writing a novel. She rocks.

Monday, May 2, 2011

First Novel Interviews - Restarting June 1.

OWFI Conference is this weekend. Once I've returned and life gets back to normal, I will send out a request through Writers, Readers, and Critiques for first time published authors to interview on this site. If you read this ahead of time, you maybe send in your request now.