• Marketing The Pacifist (Release Date 11 May) - Mehreen Ahmed’s Interview – Insightful!

    My guest today, is Queensland Author Mehreen Ahmed.

    Tell me a little bit about the book that you are currently releasing.

    I’m currently releasing The Pacifist. It’s an historical fiction during Australia’s gold rush period, circa 1850. At its core, The Pacifist is a tragic love story about two orphans that find each other during this very romantic period. The main character, Peter Baxter wants to overcome poverty and finds himself driven to succeed, with some unsavory consequences.

    When launching a new book, what do you feel is most important?

    I’m not sure that there is a single most important element. All of the pieces have to be in place in order for a launch to be successful. I suppose finding the right audience as quickly as possible is at, or near, the top of the list. It’s important to identify who your readers are so that you can tell them about your title.

    Which tool do you feel will have the most immediate impact on sales?

    The most immediate impact seems to be promotional newsletters. Not that they form the bulk of a long-term strategy but there is clearly a quick spike in sales when those services are utilized. During a launch that seems important in order to rank well on Amazon’s algorithm.

    Do you feel that there is a benefit to using Amazon’s pre-order system?

    There certainly can be – as long as Amazon continues to count pre-ordered books towards first day sales. There are a couple of reasons that pre-orders are important. Established authors want to show brick and mortar stores that there is demand for the book, so pre-orders are important there. Less established authors want to rank higher on Amazon, so that’s why using the pre-order system should be important to them. But if Amazon takes away that tool (and there are rumors that they have), then the pre-order system is nearly useless for independent authors.

    How important is social media in your marketing strategy?

    I think social media can be very useful. It’s tricky because directly selling on social media will have little impact. But if you take the time to build up a following and connect with that group, then you will find they are receptive to your book. It’s an important long-term strategy. It’s not enough to shout out the release of your book and expect everyone to run out and buy it. That won’t work.

    Do you enjoy the marketing process of releasing a new book?

    Not at all. I just want to write. If I could find someone to do it for me, I would. It’s too bad that those services are very expensive and unpredictable. With that said, I appreciate the challenge and if my strategy works, then it makes success all the sweeter.

    What does a successful book launch look like to you?

    Success is different for every book. Going into it, I have to define what a successful launch looks like. Because this book is a full length novel in a popular category and it has some mainstream appeal, I want two hundred pre-orders and a total of one thousand sales during the first month. That would be success for me. I feel it is both a lofty goal and attainable.

    What is the hardest thing about marketing a book?

    The hardest part is being social. I really just want to say, “Buy my book, it’s really good” but that doesn’t work. So, instead, I’ll write about the issues that are in my book and talk about that. I’ll dance around the buy my book part and try to convince readers that what I have to say is important – without actually saying it.

    The Pacifist Blurb

    Blurb: In 1866, Peter Baxter’s misfortune ends the day he leaves Badgerys Creek orphanage. Unsure of what to do next, Peter finds himself on a farm run by Mr. Brown. An aging man, Brown needs help and is happy to give Peter a place to live in exchange for his labor. Unbeknownst to Peter, Brown’s past is riddled with dark secrets tied to the same orphanage, which he has documented in a red folder.

    During a chance encounter, Peter meets Rose. Peter cannot help but fall in love with her beauty, grace, and wit; however, he fears that his affection will go unrequited as a result of his crippling poverty. But fate changes when Peter joins the search for gold in Hill End, New South Wales. Striking it rich, he returns to Rose a wealthy man. Peter is changed by his new found affluence, heading towards the mire of greed. Will Rose regret her relationship with Peter?

    Meanwhile, Rose has her own troubled history. One that is deeply entwined with Brown’s past and Peter’s future.

    About Mehreen Ahmed

    Queensland writer, Mehreen Ahmed has been publishing since 1987. Her writing career began with journalism, academic reviews and articles. Her journalistic articles appeared in The Sheaf, a campus newspaper for the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, between 1987 and 1999.

    She has written academic book reviews and articles and has published them in notable peer-reviewed journals in her area of study. Mostly introspective, Mehreen also writes fiction. Set in Brisbane Queensland, Jacaranda Blues is her debut novella, written in a stream of consciousness style. A featured author for Story Institute, she has published The Blotted Line, a collection of short stories. More recently, Snapshots and Moirae were first published by PostScript Editions, UK in 2010 and a second edition by Cosmic Teapot Publishing, Canada in 2016. Her flash fiction, The Portrait has been published by Straylight Literary Magazine, a biannual magazine of the University of Wisconsin-Parkland, English Department.

    She has earned two MA degrees. One in English and the other in Computer Assisted Language Learning (Applied Linguistics) from Dhaka University and the University of Queensland, Brisbane Australia.

    FB: https://www.facebook.com/mehreen.ahmed.3551

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/MehreenAhmed2

    Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5267169.Mehreen_Ahmed

    Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Mehreen-Ahmed/e/B005L6HMHM/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

    Website: http://www.cosmicteapot.net

    The Pacifist is Available at:

    Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XYRRZVW

    Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/715520

    Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-pacifist-1

    itunes: https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-pacifist/id1222716247?mt=11

    B&N : http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-pacifist-mehreen-ahmed/1126086852?ean=2940154096284

    Thank you Mehreen for sharing your thoughts :)

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  • Author Simon Williams Talks About His Life and how the Torn Book Series Saved His Life

    My Interview today, is with Simon Willams an Australian born author, who now lives in Miami.

    1. Tell us about yourself.

    Everything about myself? Christ, can I leave out the really dumb stuff? That won't give me much material. I was born in Australia coming up on a half a century ago. I spent 8 years at boarding school as a child, where I developed a sarcastic sense of humor to avoid getting beaten up by the older kids. I currently live in Miami, married with one child and 2 step children. Other than that, I reveal a lot of what makes me tick in my book, including the really dumb stuff that no one ever talks about.

    2. Growing up, was there a book you read that made you desire to write for a living?

    My favourite book growing up only taught me to dream of adventure. The Plum Rain Scroll. I didn't desire to write as a living. I wrote purely for my personal satisfaction and the amusement of those close to me. My desire to write a book was born from circumstances in my life that bought immeasurable pain and I considered committing suicide. Writing a book was a way to keep me sitting down at a desk and rather than wandering over to the window ledge. So I desired to write… to live.

    3. Did you have another ideal career besides writing?

    I enjoy my career in healthcare that I have while I pursue writing. Maybe a pole dancer if I was flexible enough? Allow me to sleep in. A mate from primary school lives in LA and a few times a month he travels the world to work for a TV show called, Island Hunters. All his Facebook posts are of him hanging out of the side of a helicopter over exotic tropical islands. If the pole dancing and writing thing don't work out I will ask him if he wants an assistant.

    4. When did you first start writing?

    My English teacher in Grade 12 told me I was a lazy student. The class was asked to write a 5-page historical story. I was so pissed at him I wrote 30 pages. It was such a satisfying experience, not only because I could subtly give him the finger without being in trouble for it. My current foray into writing began about 4 years ago, the night I stood on my 20-story balcony and wondered if my life was worth going on.

    5. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

    I enjoy my exercise, rugby games and the occasional triathlon or ocean swim. I don't watch television so I do spend a lot of my spare time writing. On a Saturday afternoon, I will go watch mates play rugby then have a beer at the pub. I absolutely adore picking up after my step kids and having my wife complain I don't do enough around the house.

    6. What are your feelings on writer’s block?

    I solved this problem very quickly when I decided to start writing. I write with a stream of consciousness so I just write anything. I know I will rewrite it a thousand times so I consider it like doing exercise. It doesn't matter if I am running or swimming or doing the rowing machine, I am doing something. I can refine my training as I get closer to an event, but most of the time I just need to be doing some form of activity.

    7. What does your process look like? Any necessary rituals to bring the words about?

    All I do is think of my starting point. My writing is like hot air ballooning. I know where I start but once I get going I could end up anywhere. My process is then to do anything but write, then the ideas and thoughts just flood into my head. Boredom at work helps a great deal as well. I always have a pen and paper with me or my cell phone to WhatsApp myself a message. The pressure and excitement then just builds through the day. By the time I get a moment to write for the day, I usually have 5 pages of things to work on and by this stage I am desperate to get it on paper.

    8. Has real life and writing life ever merged?

    My first three books are all real life. They didn't just merge, they shacked up together, shagged rotten and had a few kids.

    9. What kind of research do you do and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

    My research for my books was the attention I paid to all that was going on around me as I grew up. Every random thing I was told, then when I recall these moments while I am bored at work, I Google the events or people that surrounded that thought and craft it into my story.

    10. How does location and personal travel figure into your work?

    Locations in my books are important only with regards to the backstory behind how or why I ended up in that location, not the location itself. Like I said, hot air ballooning. The stately oak in the corner of the freshly mown paddock isn't as important as the sudden change in the gust of wind and the rapid deceleration of the balloon after it runs out of gas, because the balloonist forgot to refill it as he was out drinking the night before and tried to win on to some divorcee who was sitting by the jukebox listening to Bryan Ferry songs.

    11. Where do you come up with your ideas?

    The ideas are all personal experiences, that often time I have long forgotten. The recall of them is what is the surprise. They literally suddenly spring into my mind at random occasions. I have 30 seconds to write them down or text them to myself or I forget. Then I piece them into the story at night if they fit. Many times, they don't and my wife finds pages of unused ideas stashed in drawers around the house.

    12. Tell us about the process for TORN. What was the process like for this book?

    The process for TORN started with me backing off from the edge of my balcony and sitting at my computer in a desperate state and starting to write a suicide note. First line, 'I want to kill myself,' second line, 'hang on let’s think about this.' I wanted to take my time before dying, so I dragged it out. I may have even been able to smile at myself with what I wrote. I made it through that first night. The next evening, I got home and went straight to my desk to write and just kept following this system every night for a year.

    13. What was the hardest part of writing this book?

    Opening up about the reason I was thinking about jumping off the balcony. Making the book humorous was also difficult, but not as much as I thought.

    14. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in the journey to completing the book?

    Writing, while as frustrating and demoralizing as it can be, can still feel like heaven when you compare it to the lowest days experienced during life.

    15. Do you have a favorite chapter and would you like to share a sample?

    My favourite chapters are the ones in the end of Book 3 of the series. But here is an example of my early days.

    As I tap on the door, all I can think about is news stories I saw while growing up in Australia. Reports of children trick-or-treating, then gunned down as they knock on a front door. This is all sensationalistic journalism does, scares the crap out of me when I want to purchase tickets for a uniquely American sporting experience. An African American man, dressed in a bright orange suit, answers the door and seems rather surprised to find a nervous white dude standing there. I tell him I am here to scalp football tickets for him and he bursts out laughing. ‘You aren't scalping boy. I am doing the scalping,’ and with introductions accomplished, he invites me into his living room.

    He has never met an Australian before, so is absolutely intrigued. He wants to know all about the country. I have never met an American black man before, so I explain it from the beginning bit. Where Captain Cook sails up the East Coast in 1770 and names the Glasshouse Mountains because they remind him of the huge glass furnaces in his native Yorkshire. I wisely decide to edit mentioning Cook ordering his expedition to shoot at the two aborigines in Botany Bay. A frantic pounding at the door interrupts me from regaling when Captain Cook is killed in Hawaii, after he shit stirs the natives. It is a panic stricken Dohers, ‘you left me in the car by myself, you bastard.’ I point out to him that, I didn’t leave, as much as he desired to stay. ‘Did you get the tickets? We still need to find the stadium.’ The realization that, as enjoyable as reviewing Australian history is with an American we have a game to get to, makes me hasten things up. I quickly outline: The First Fleet; Bushrangers; the Eureka Stockade; Federation; Gallipoli; Gough Whitlam being sacked as Prime Minister; the 1982 America’s Cup and Olivia Newton John freeing the slaves. Then it is time for us to go.

    16. Are you working on else now?

    I am writing a book with my eleven-year-old step daughter on the ups and downs of the beginnings of our relationship. Then I plan on writing a travel memoir of trips through the American Southwest.

    17. Do you have a favorite novel and why?

    I enjoyed Goodbye California by Alastair McLean. My brother had every Alastair Mclean, Robert Ludlum and James Michener book, but not this one. As well it was my first actual adult novel that I read. The Man from St. Petersburg by Ken Follet I liked. I must have appreciated reading fiction a great deal more when I was younger.

    18. Who are your favorite authors?

    Bill Bryson, Clive Cussler. Michael Palin and Ben Elton.

    19. Where can we find you?

    I am not on a great deal of social media. My Twitter account was hacked after 2 days. I am submitting that to the Guinness Book of World Records. My Facebook page for the book series would be it.

    https://www.facebook.com/TORN-The-Story-of-an-Undeserving-Wallaby-Drowning-in-a-Septic-Tank-914843835226486/?ref=bookmarks

    My step daughter keeps trying to get me on Instagram, but I resist valiantly. She will probably grow up hating me. I enjoy doing written interviews such as this as it keeps my mind busy.

    20. Where can we get TORN and the complete series?

    Amazon, Smashwords, TORN is available for only 99 cents.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VC2Z6U4

    https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/531080

    Thank you Simon, so much, for sharing your writing journey. For a FREE copy CLICK HERE

    Natasha

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  • Today's Interview is with Bestselling Author Teresa Lo

    I am pleased to share with you all, an interview with Teresa

    Tell us about your background.

    I’m originally from a small town in Kansas, but I moved to Los Angeles to earn a M.F.A. from the University of California’s School of Cinematic Arts. I studied screenwriting there, and screenwriting weirdly helped me write books because I was trained to outline my stories, which helps me decide whether or not to actually write the book and helps me stay on track when it comes to plot.

    What inspired you to write The Sugar Baby Club?

    The Sugar Baby Club is about two college freshmen who want to earn tuition money, so they sign up for a sugar dating website and find older men to date in exchange for money and gifts. The girls end up with such an elevated lifestyle that other people in their residence hall want in too, and the freshmen create a makeshift dating agency from their dorm room.

    Living in Los Angeles, it’s hard to not see sugar baby-sugar daddy relationships in the wild, but I wasn’t really aware of what I was looking at until I saw Lisa Ling’s documentary about sugar daddies. After I watched it, I started researching the topic and talking to people who partook in the lifestyle. Their testimonials opened my eyes and made me rethink my preconceived notions that sugar dating was somehow gross or immoral. It actually seemed to be similar to more traditional relationships except that terms were discussed upfront, and both parties got something out of it. That newfound discovery was something that I wanted to discuss in my book, which showcases the good parts as well as the bad parts of what it’s like to be a sugar baby.

    How are you spreading the word about your book?

    I wanted to hire a publicist to help me spread the word about The Sugar Baby Club, but the prices I was quoted were insane so I realized I had to do it myself. I reached out to big media companies to try to get interviewed, but all my requests were ignored. It really is who you know when it comes to that avenue, so I realized I couldn’t count on that to happen.

    For this project, I ended up mainly using social media for marketing. On Facebook, I found people who were willing to review the book, and I also used social media like Instagram and Twitter to give my followers updates on the book’s progress and release. The next step I plan to do is use my personal contacts and send out an email blast letting people know that the book is out, and I’m also exploring the use of Amazon ads.

    The Sugar Baby Club is on Amazon right now

    https://www.amazon.com/Sugar-Baby-Club-Teresa-Lo/dp/1540691780

    The Sugar Baby Club synopsis:

    Sick of “hanging out” and hookup culture, college freshman Jasmine Lewis decides to try out a new kind of dating—sugar dating. After watching a documentary about sugar daddies, she and her roommate Kita Okoye sign up for Searching Sweet Sugar, a sugar dating site that promises to change young girls’ lives for the better.

    After meeting a few salt daddies, terrible men who abuse the system, Jasmine and Kita land the sugar daddies of their dreams, men who shower them with money, Louis Vuitton, and vacations. Their newfound, glamorous lifestyle attracts the attention of girls in their residence hall, and soon, Jasmine and Kita find themselves running a makeshift dating agency from their dorm room.

    Thank you Teresa. It is really marvelous to hear about your journey.

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  • An Interview with Brittany Nicole Lewis, Author of YA Novel Finding Freedom

    I asked Brittany about her writing journey:

    "Here are the answers to your questions."

    1. What made you want to write a book?

    I actually wrote my YA novel Finding Freedom as a personal experiment to see how long I could write fiction, since I had mostly only written poetry and nonfiction before that.

    2. Tell us about you and where you live.

    I live in North Carolina with my husband (of eight years this year) and our two children. I have a daughter and a son.

    3. What have you written and what are you working on now?

    So far I have written a book of poetry Shine Through the Darkness, two nonfiction books The Basic Guide to Starting Your Own Business on a Budget, and The Basics of Options Trading, and my first YA novel in The Zion Series, Finding Freedom. I am currently working on the second book in that series, Heir of Zion.

    4. How do you market your books and do your promotion methods work?

    So far my methods have been giving me good results. I start by posting my book on over 100 Facebook pages and my website (www.brittanynicolelewisblog.wordpress.com) and doing a press release. Then I call every book store and library in my state and the surrounding states (I have covered six states so far) and every book club in that state. Then, I contact the churches in that area and tell the Pastors about my book. Then, I submit press releases to newspapers in other states also. I have also been invited to do many, many interviews, guests posts and podcasts.

    5. Where can readers find your books for sale?

    Right now they are all available on Amazon and soon they will be available on B&N.com

    Finding Freedom has just been released:

    Katie was born into a cult. Her family lived there for generations. As she got older, she realized the Elders were keeping secrets from the community. Risking everything, she leaves the cult and searches for the truth. With the help of outsiders, Katie and her young husband David are put in touch with an organization called Purple Haven, which provides medical care, shelter, counseling and job training to individuals who have escaped from cults. She soon discovers she’s pregnant. With the help of her husband, her therapist, and two friends, Katie learns what it means to have a relationship with God.

    Best of luck with your new book Brittany and I hope you sell many copies.

    https://www.amazon.com/Finding-Freedom-Zion-Book-1-ebook/dp/B06XQ4ZS9D

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  • My Guest Today is Award Winning Author Q.L. Pearce Talking about her Writing Journey

    Q.L. Pearce is the author of more than 150 books, from picturebooks to Young Adult, including the popular series, Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs. Her work has won the Carter G. Woodson gold medal, a Moonbeam Children’s Book Award gold medal, and many others. Her multi-award winning picturebook, Red Bird Sings, co-authored with Gina Capaldi, received praise from Publisher’s Weekly, the School Library Journal, and the Library Media Connection. She says that her love of writing started early.

    My Guest Author Says:

    "There are three things that I absolutely adore: writing, dogs, and traveling. I’m Canadian-born to British parents and I started traveling when I was still an infant. Soon after I was born we moved to Baranquilla, Colombia, a city now famous as the birthplace of Shakira. A few years later we settled in Florida and I spent my early childhood on an island in Boca Ciega Bay. In my teens we lived in Palm Springs, California, and once out of school I set off to explore the world starting with New York City.

    I’ve been writing since I could scribble a story on paper. I won my first school writing contest in third grade and my first city sponsored contest at age eleven. I actually got into a little trouble when I was a kid for telling scary stories that frightened my friends. Publishing was my dream but I started out as a jeweler first in New York and then on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California. Still, I continued to write, enter contests, and submit to magazines. I took creative writing classes and joined writer’s groups. My heroes were Ray Bradbury, George Orwell, Roald Dahl, Shirley Jackson and Rod Serling. Now Neil Gaiman is definitely on the list.

    Once I began seriously submitting I gathered an extensive collection of rejections. Over the course of ten years or so the rejections went from definite “no” to “no, but keep submitting.” My first contract with a major publisher was for an activity book about dinosaurs. It was with Price Stern Sloan. My first contract for fiction also came from Price Stern Sloan when they published Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs. It did very well and I wrote quite a few books in the series.

    Since then I have written more than 120 books for young readers including educational, nonfiction, biography, and fiction for all age ranges. Middle grade to YA horror, sci-fi and mystery are my favorites. I enjoy the world building and the suspension of disbelief required in a ghost story and I get a kick out of researching creepy tales and urban legends.

    I also enjoy prowling through antique stores for curious objects or photographs that might spark an idea, or hiking around in new environments to use as settings. My dear friend, author Tamara Thorne, and I sometimes take road trips. We visit haunted hotels, abandoned buildings and ghost towns, all for inspiration.

    Spine Chillers: Hair-Raising Tales is my latest collection. It includes seven short stories about classic ghosts, a monster or two, urban legends and one tale that is an homage to The Twilight Zone.

    Over the course of my career the publishing industry has gone through many changes that require media savvy. I’m not an expert with social media but I’m learning. I regularly write two or three hours a day and spend a few hours each week on promotional activities. I have a wonderful literary publicist, Berlin Malcolm, at BAM! Literature. I’m not a huge fan of up-to-the-minute technology, but Berlin has guided me through all of the elements including creating my website, writing guest posts for book blogs, and doing author interviews and radio spots. In fact I’m thrilled to be joining Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross as co-host for YA nights on Thorne and Cross Haunted Nights LIVE, part of the Authors on the Air: Radio Network. Berlin has been in my corner throughout and her guidance has been invaluable.

    Another important element in my writing life is membership in the Society of Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators. They provide terrific conferences that include talks and workshops with editors, agents, and well-known authors. I’ve discovered many unique opportunities at the conferences and the workshops help me to keep my writing current and fresh.

    Looking to the future, I’m working on a few things including the next volume of Spinechillers. I have two fact fiction picturebooks in work with coauthor/illustrator Gina Capaldi, a middle grade mystery adventure with coauthor Francesca Rusackas, and a solo YA horror novel.

    To see what I’m up to next please visit me at www.qlpearce.com"

    Q lives in California with her research scientist husband, two very spoiled dogs, a talkative cockatiel, a bevy of fish and a host of wild squirrels who believe her life revolves around delivering their meals.

    Thanks for letting us all hear about your life. To read Q's next book - 'Spine Chillers', please visit https://www.amazon.com/Spine-Chillers-Hair-Raising-Tales-Book-ebook/dp/B01M7U859N

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County Times April 21st 2011

Follow My Marketing and Book Promotion Journey

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