• My special guest today is Joan Schweighart author of 'Before We Died'

    Hi Joan, thank you so much for being my guest today. Please tell everyone about yourself and your new book 'Before We Died'

    What is your novel about and when does it release?

    Before We Died tells the story of two Irish American brothers who leave their jobs as dockworkers in New Jersey in the year 1908 to make their fortune tapping rubber trees in the South American rainforest. It is very much an adventure story, but it is also character driven with a strong focus on the relationship between the brothers, the impact various challenges have on them, and the ways in which psychological struggles can change a person generally—all unfolding against the background of the rubber boom, a fascinating historical event.

    Before We Died will be published in paperback and e-book versions in September, 2018, but the Kindle version can be preordered now.

    How did you come to be interested in the rubber boom?

    I make my living as a pen for hire. Over the years I have researched and written about everything from plumbing to astrology to inspiration to murder. Sometimes the subject matter I am asked to write about inspires me to the point where I can’t let it go even after the project is completed and in the client’s hands.

    This happened with the rubber boom. A local publisher asked me to speed-read some of their backlist books and write a paragraph for each that could be used on their website. One of these books was a slim diary of a rubber tapper working in the South America rainforest during the rubber boom. I didn’t even know there had been a rubber boom! It’s possible that I had gone through my entire life to that point never giving a single thought to where rubber came from before we got the synthetic kind. I found the rubber tapper’s story fascinating. I found the descriptions of living in the deep jungle fascinating. It was kind of like I opened a door and fell into another world.

    Have you ever been to the rainforest yourself?

    I have been in love with rainforests—as presented in books and movies—since I was a little kid, devoted heart and soul to Tarzan and Jane. But I never wanted to spend time in one because I am afraid of insects and snakes. I changed my tune when I got hooked on the rubber idea. I began to look for organizations that bring people into the deep rainforest, and I found myself a good one. My husband (who is an environmentalist and also a photographer) and I traveled with a group of sustainability enthusiasts and translators into the rainforests of Ecuador, where we stayed with an indigenous community with much to teach “Northerners” on any number of subjects, including, of course, taking better care of the planet. The experience was life-changing.

    By the time we returned I was ready to create my own rubber-tapper story. I started making an outline, and also reading every book I could find on the rubber boom, Manaus, Brazil (which was the headquarters for the rubber industry at that time), the flora and fauna of the rainforest, the indigenous people that were affected by the boom, life on the docks of New Jersey at the turn of the century, and much more. I was so deeply invested that I began to dream about rainforests and the rivers that run through them at night. I promised myself that when I finished the first draft of my novel, I would reward myself with another trip, and I did, this time to visit Manaus and then to boat down the Amazon and the Rio Negro rivers with a guide to see rubber trees, and a lot more. My book, over time, grew to become a trilogy.

    Was it hard to write a first-person novel in the voice of a turn-of-the-20th century Irish American dockworker from a rough immigrant neighborhood?

    It was at first, but I did lots of research about the slang the Irish immigrant community generated when they first came to America, and I think I got it down. My narrator’s language is “colorful” in places, but I thought it was more important to be authentic than to be politically correct. I myself don’t cuss much. But my narrator is a young high-spirited dockworker who would have reveled in the vernacular of his times. Who am I to take that away from him? The second and third book (both in various stages of completion) are narrated by women.

    Speaking of women, are there any in Before We Died, to offset all this male élan?

    Yes, there is Nora, the love interest of both brothers, and thus the impetus for some of their sibling rivalry. Although she only makes appearances at the beginning and end of the story, she is never out of mind. (Nora narrates Book Two, which will be entitled Gifts for the Dead.) And there are several other women in the scenes that take place in the city of Manaus, two of whom turn up in all three books.

    Anything else you’d like to say to our readers?

    Yes, if you think my “Rivers” series might be your cup of tea, please consider signing up for my newsletter at www.joanschweighardt.com (bottom of the landing page). I promise not to bombard you with book news, just the three announcements to mark the three book launches.

    Thank you Joan, your book sounds facinating.

    You are able to pre-order Joan's book at Amazon. Please click on this link https://www.amazon.com/Before-We-Died-Rivers-Book-ebook/dp/B07FG78F85

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  • My guest today is New York author Clifford Browder - How I Market My Books

    Welcome Clifford to my blog, thank you so much for sharing your book marketing strategy. It is amazing how much we authors have to do to promote our books.

    "Let me say right off that I’m not a bestselling author with hundreds of book sales to my credit. I’m a small-press and self-published author who, like most authors today, has to do a lot of self-promotion, even if it goes against the grain. I’ve never owned a television or a cell phone or (not surprising for a New Yorker) a car, which is probably irrelevant when it comes to marketing my books. This post is about what does – and doesn’t – work for me. I speak only for the U.S.; I don’t know how things are in Britain.

    An eye-catching title and cover

    A book has to be marketable. Assuming the content is of value, that means a title and cover to attract buyers, and a blurb on the back cover to hook them. For my nonfiction I use descriptive subtitles:

    No Place for Normal: New York / Stories from the Most Exciting City in the World.

    Fascinating New Yorkers / Power Freaks, Mobsters, Liberated Women, Creators, Queers and Crazies

    Some authors do this for fiction titles also, but so far I have not. But when presenting my fiction titles, I always mention that they are part of my Metropolis series of historical fiction set in nineteenth-century New York. If readers like one of them, they may want to read the others.

    As for cover illustrations, all my small presses have served me well. But of all my books, the cover that reaches out and grabs people is the self-published collection of posts from my blog cited above: No Place for Normal: New York / Stories from the Most Exciting City in the World.

    The bright colors and the bold words NEW YORK do the trick.

    Not every cover has to be this striking at a distance; if people come to this book and others are there beside it, they’ll look at the others as well. Here are covers of two of my novels, both of them attractive when seen up close.

    Bill Hope is the story of a likable street kid turned pickpocket who is in and out of jail four times, escaping once in a coffin. The cover relates to his confinement in Sing Sing Prison, where he is savagely beaten.

    Dark Knowledge tells how a young man suspects that some of his family may have been involved in the North Atlantic slave trade. Appalled, he sets out to learn the truth and encounters lies, evasions, and threats from those who fear exposure. The cover shows the New York waterfront and, below, a slave ship's interior. (For more about my books, including reviews and sales links, see the BROWDERBOOKS section at the end of any recent post on my blog, No Place for Normal: New York https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=684081688938176904#allposts.)

    Know who your readers are

    I learned this at book fairs (see below). The more specific your target audience, the more effective your marketing can be. For my nonfiction, my readers are older people (i.e., not millennials) who have visited or would like to visit New York and want a literary souvenir of the city. Also, residents who want to know more about their city, past and present. A longtime resident, I am a storyteller eager to inform and entertain, to share with others my impressions and reminiscences of life in New York, a city like no other, a city where anything goes.

    My fiction is historical fiction set in nineteenth-century New York, for which I have done extensive research, using primary sources whenever possible. The audience, similar in age to that for my nonfiction, is readers who like fast-paced action/ adventure. Also, schoolteachers, librarians, and parents who want their kids to read something of literary value, with a good bit of history thrown in.

    Social media

    Authors have to have a presence here. My blog, No Place for Normal: New York, serves as my website. Every week I publish a new post dealing with New York City, past and present. I have a small but faithful following, many of whom buy my books.

    I also have an Author Central page on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Clifford-Browder/e/B001HOP166 that even lists some earlier books now out of print, and a page on Facebook and Goodreads. But most of my energy goes into the blog.

    What I don’t do, online or off, is advertise. Advertising works only when repeated endlessly, and this can be expensive.

    Pre-publication giveaways

    For each of my books I did a series of giveaways on Goodreads, the huge book readers’ website, which made several hundred members aware of my new title. Each giveaway attracted more people. And of course I have my own page there, with a listing of the books I’ve read or am currently reading. One negative: I couldn’t do a giveaway for my most recent title, because Goodreads had no record of it! Also, Goodreads giveaways used to be free; now they aren’t. Do I know for sure that these giveaways resulted in sales? No. One only hopes.

    E-mail lists

    Authors must constantly be building a list of e-mail addresses of people who might buy their book. I started with friends and relations, but that was only a start. I learned to mention casually to people I met that I’m an author. If they don’t show an interest, I don’t push it. But if they ask what kind of books I write, I tell them in a few short words. That often prompts more questions – about my books and about New York (everyone has an opinion, fiercely good or bad, about New York), in which case I give them my card with my e-mail address and the name of my blog. If they give me their card or contact me by e-mail, I add their e-mail address to my list. Surprising sales result. My dentist buys my books, as does my partner’s doctor. And a young man I met at a gathering took my card, began following my blog, and is now an avid reader of my novels.

    Media releases

    So what do I do with all those e-mail addresses? Above all, I use them in a media release. A media release is a way to get the attention of media people who may help promote your book. At this point I’m not ready to approach the media, so I use media releases to tell people that I have a new book being published, or that I’ll be exhibiting at a book fair. I start with a catchy title, linked if possible to current events, then a brief statement. Here is what I’m doing for my most recent book:

    This Crowd Can Out-Trump Trump

    Clifford Browder’s Fascinating New Yorkers: Power Freaks, Mobsters, Liberated Women, Creators, Queers and Crazies is being released by Black Rose Writing on July 26.

    The cover gives a blurred impression of people striding, quite appropriate for New Yorkers, whose pace is notoriously fast. Then a description of the book: “You think Donald Trump has been giving New York City a bad name? Wait till you meet this crowd.” Etc., etc. A bio follows, then links to where the book can be obtained. I try to keep the release to one page and end it with ###

    And who does the release go out to? To the followers of my blog, in case they need a reminder. And to everyone on my e-mail lists (I in fact have several), including the editors of my high school and college alumni bulletins, which have a Book Shelf page. Many of the recipients – maybe most – won’t buy the book, but some will, and I may be surprised. In my release for my historical novel Dark Knowledge, about the slave trade in New York, I included the addresses of some people on the staff of my college whom I knew only through e-mails, and one of them said she would buy the book at once. Likewise a friend who usually buys and reviews my books, but who in this case needed a nudge. That’s how it goes: no big orders, just one sale here and one sale there.

    Reviews

    You’ve got to get them, and the more the better. Even bad ones. It’s hard for new authors to grasp, but better a bad review than no review at all; a bad review at least means that someone has read, or tried to read, your book. But today, thanks to POD (print on demand), it’s easier than ever to get published; there are lots of small presses filling the gap left by the big U.S. publishers, who are hard for new writers to access. Also, it’s easy to self-publish. The result: hundreds of new books every year, competing fiercely for reviews. The big publications like Publishers’ Weekly and Library Journal are swamped with queries, as are book bloggers who like to review new books. For me, it’s easier to get published than to get meaningful reviews. What to do? Have your publisher offer e-books to readers on LibraryThing in exchange for pre-publication reviews; this has worked quite well for me. Ask friends and acquaintances who have read your book to do a review, and emphasize that a review can be as short as two or three sentences. The more reader reviews you have on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, the better. But don’t be surprised if some of your friends don’t buy any of your books; they haven’t signed a contract to do so. Some of my friends buy all my books, some buy none, and some by some but not others. And that is fine by me.

    Book fairs

    Here is a way to meet your readers and find out who they are. When I exhibited at the Rainbow Book Fair in 2012, I had just one book to present: my only gay-themed novel, The Pleasuring of Men.

    It’s about a respectably raised young man who decides to become a male prostitute servicing the city’s elite, then falls in love with his most difficult client: gay romance. I only sold a few copies, but I learned who the readers for that book are: older gay men. Since then the book has been read and reviewed by women; again, be prepared for surprises. Certainly the cover doesn’t hurt.

    Since that first book fair I’ve exhibited twice at BookCon, the biggest book event in the country, at the Javits Convention Center here in New York. It’s a two-day book extravaganza where, in its own words, “storytelling collides with pop culture,” and what a collision it is – a book event on steroids. It primarily attracts young women in their late teens and early twenties who read romance, science fiction, and fantasy – not my genres – and are eager to meet their favorite authors and get them to sign their books. I went knowing this, hoping to connect with older readers. At BookCon 2017 I sold 26 books – less than I had hoped – but I confirmed my assumption that my readers are older people – older women (i.e., not millennials) and, to a slightly lesser extent, older men. To boost sales, I offered “Buy two, get one free,” which some buyers took me up on.

    At BookCon 2018 I knew to dress up my booth with a sign in front, NEW YORK STORIES, telling attendees what kind of books I was offering, and a big bookstand that held twelve books – four copies of three books each.

    I sold only 22 books – again, a disappointment -- but I knew that my booth attracted every potential buyer who happened to come down that aisle. I met some interesting people, and among the buyers were two young women, one of whom asked to have her photo taken with the author. Yet again, a surprise. At BookCon 2017 I had offered free candy, but in 2018 I targeted my older audience not with candy but with smaller signs

    A BOOK IS A HOUSE OF GOLD – Chinese proverb

    READ, LEARN, EXPLORE

    LIFE WOUNDS, BOOKS HEAL

    But it was the big sign in front, followed up by the bookstand, that drew people to my booth.

    Among my neighbors at BookCon 2018 were several first-time exhibitors who had yet to learn how to sell at a book fair. You can’t just sit quietly at your booth, with your books lying flat on the table; nobody will come to you. You have to look bright and friendly and make your booth sexy, appealing, exciting. I and my young assistant had done this, and we’ll do it again when we exhibit at the one-day Brooklyn Book Festival in September, where we’ll get a more typical crowd of New Yorkers, with less emphasis on female millennials.

    * * * * * *

    Such are my ways to market my books. My marketing efforts are a work in progress; I still have a lot to learn. Book marketing has to be done consistently over a period of years. You try this, then that, and slowly find what works best for you. It’s work, but it’s also – sometimes – fun."

    Thank you once again.

    Natasha :)

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  • Today Tal Gur talks about his inspiration to write 'The Art of Fully Living - 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals'

    Hi Tal, welcome to my blog :)

    1. What made you want to write a book?

    In the case of The Art of Fully Living book, the story seemed to be wanting to come out. Conscious that many more people wanted to hear my 100 life goals story, I began to dare thinking that I could write a book that can turn to a bestseller. For years, since the beginning of my journey, people had repeatedly said to me, “you should start writing your story.” I kind of laughed it off because I never thought my English was good enough for writing it properly. Over time, however, I realized that this was not true anymore. I played with the book idea for a while until one day, I decided to plunge into it full steam.

    2. Tell us about you and where you live.

    I was born in Israel but I feel at home in many places, especially in Australia. Aged 21, I embarked on a long motorcycle trip in Australia and immediately fell in love with this remote and spectacular corner of the world. A few years later I moved there and made it my second home. Since my move to Australia, being inspired from the satisfaction and sense of achievement that came from pursuing my Australian dream, I found myself constantly seeking new challenges, overextending myself in all aspects of life, ultimately resulting in happy and fulfilling journeys.

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

    I wrote a book called The Art of Fully Living - 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals - It’s a blend of memoir and self-improvement guide. The very structure of the book models my immersive approach to goal-driven living: each chapter of The Art of Fully Living is dedicated to a year of focus—socializing, fitness, freedom, contribution, love, adventure, wealth, relationship, spirituality, and creativity—and follows my endeavors as I work toward fulfilling 100 life goals in 10 years. I’m still contemplating my next book.

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

    For me, the best way to raise awareness of my book was to simply ask for help from anyone I know, including my blog subscribers (https://fullylived.com/blog). The way I see it, launching a book involves a lot of asking and it requires courage and vulnerability to reach out, to connect, to ask, and to potentially get rejected....

    5. Where can readers find your book for sale?

    Amazon: https://amazon.com/dp/B07698X75W

    Website: https://fullylived.com/art

    Thank you for talking about your remarkable journey, I am sure everyone will be eager to find out more.

    Natasha :0

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  • My Guest Ken Harris Shadow Moon Educational Theatre Presents Jet Set Jeff: The Science Defender

    Welcome Ken to my blog, please let everyone know about your wonderful new book Jet Set Jeff: The Science Defender.

    "Thank you for this wonderful opportunity, Natasha!

    Jet Set Jeff: The Science Defender was an idea in my head I would say as early as 1985 when I was 8 or 9 years old. Then, I was a big reader of comic books. I was baffled as to why the parents of popular super-heroes like Spiderman, Batman, Superman, Iron Man, and so many others have to be killed off or deceased to make a hero dedicated to being a crime fighter. I even took it a step further, I imagined it would be nice to have a child-hero like me saving his accident prone parents. In my little mind, this was a story someone in Hollywood or the publishing industry would take advantage of because it was something different. I just assumed one day someone will come up with my ideal story of a kid using his defected gadgets to protect his mom and dad all the time. It never happened.

    I am a contributing writer for the Point of View newspaper at http://afampov.com. As a member of Stand for Children, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving literacy for struggling children, I put a lot of focus on the group's activities on the local and state level in Massachusetts to convince lawmakers to implement bills supportive of improving resources needed to rectify the literacy gap. I am a volunteer teacher. I also work as a Greeter at Holyoke Community College in Holyoke, MA. I pretty much help visitors and students with any information of events, classes, and special functions occurring. I am a people's person and truly enjoy interacting and helping people.

    All of my 3 books are available as an Ebook and paperback on Amazon. I like the fact that potential customers have the choice. My first book was an YA science-fiction horror titled, "The Serpent Scrolls". Then I ventured on a nonfiction chapter-book called, "The Sea Adventures of Robert Smalls." I am currently working on stories for my shadow puppet plays that I will have on my blog beginning in June at http://kennyduaneharris.blogspot.com. My goal is encourage the use of shadow puppets in the home or in schools. Shadow puppets is a fun-skill builder. It expands children's imagination and fine motor skills. It is simple to make. Creating figures out of black card stock paper, using a cut-out box for the stage with a screen made of parchment paper, and a light source really can be a fun skill builder.

    My first Shadow Puppet Story titled, "Where in the Galaxy is Dr. Getto" is about and astronaut who teams up with a robot and they seek to explore the galaxy in search of their father and creator. The first monthly segment will focus on a reoccurring theme- running away only leads to loneliness and regret. I am excited to use this ancient art form of shadow puppets to scatter the seeds of inspiration for the young minds of tomorrow.

    I use Facebook and a website called next-door.com. I am new at this marketing business but I feel they key to successful marketing is to develop a relationship with your readers. I must offer something unique, fun, and significant to their lives. I feel sharing my passion for shadow puppets via social media may be the key.

    Readers can learn more about me and find my books and blog/videos on Amazon at amazon.com/author/harriskenneth

    Thank you and never give up on your passion!

    Kenneth Harris

    amazon.com/author/harriskenneth

    http:kennyduaneharris.blogspot.com"

    Thank you Ken. I notice that you are getting some great reviews on Amazon. If you would like to buy a copy of Ken's book then just click on the links above.

    Natasha :)

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  • My guest today is Dawn Chandler, a multi genre author from Idaho

    Welcome Dawn to my blog, thank you for joining me today. Please let everyone know about your writing journey.

    1. What made you want to write a book?

    I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I wrote my first full length novel when I was in middle school. I was always writing stories and tales.

    2. Tell us about you and where you live.

    I live in Idaho on a small farm. I have a menagerie of critters including donkeys, ponies, mules, Texas Longhorn, dachshunds, cats, rabbits, goats, ferrets, turtles, and Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. I enjoy drawing and doing children's books as well as writing my novels. I am very outdoorsy, I like hiking, rock climbing, camping, swimming and spending time in my garden.

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

    I have written The Dark Lady, the first in a series of medieval romances. Dark Christmas, a short story that falls in between book one, The Dark Lady, and book two of my Dark Books Series. The Infamous A.H. the first in my London Series based in 1800 London. Dan's Dirty Day, a children's book. I am currently working on finishing edits on a fantasy, The Legend and the second in my Dark Books Series, From Under a Dark Shadow. First chapters can be read at www.dawnchandler.net

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

    I am on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, my blog and my website. My promotions do fairly well through Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

    5. Where can readers find your book for sale?

    My novels can be found at Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, Smashwords.com, Audible.com, iTunes.com, BlackOpalBooks.com

    They are available in ebook, print, and audible.

    Thank you, please let me know if you need anything else.

    My books are

    The Dark Lady

    Dark Christmas

    The Infamous A.H

    Dan's Dirty Day

    If you would lke to buy one of Dawn's books then please visit her Amazon page at https://www.amazon.com/Dawn-Chandler/e/B00DWGYZ7S

    Thank you Dawn for sharing.

    Natasha :)x

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