Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Nashville-based Writing Instructors

Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services (WITS) team has two writing instructors.

Sarah Moore is a former high school teacher and college academic advisor available to work with students who need tutoring to improve their essays, term papers, and reports before turning in assignments. She is also able to work with professors and doctors who would like an extra set of eyes to edit proofread their piece before submitting to medical journals or industry magazines.

Dianna Calareso offers online tele-seminars and Nashville-area writing workshops throughout the year during which she provides coaching that helps students find their unique writing style and take their writing skills to the next level. Students will be given encouragement and help in specific areas of need.

Both Sarah and Dianna are available to work one-on-one with you by phone or email (or in person if you are in the Nashville area).

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Author Branding: The You That Is Everywhere

By Joel Friedlander

We’ve been told over and over again that to market effectively as self-publishers, we have to start building our author platform as early as possible.

But even before you start hammering together that platform that’s going to support you and your book and your marketing efforts, you need to decide how you will brand yourself.

"Creating an author platform is vital for a new author’s success, and creating a brand is the basis for the platform. You need to know what you are creating before you start!"—Joanna Penn

What’s that? You don’t think of yourself as a box of Kleenex, a bar of soap, a transatlantic airline? That doesn’t mean you don’t need your own branding. It doesn’t even mean you don’t already have a brand of some kind if you’re active in social media now.

Here’s an example of a failure of corporate branding. When Fedex bought a ground delivery service, they only had to expand their brand a little to accommodate the idea of “secure trackable package delivery, express or ground.”

But when Fedex bought Kinko’s copy shops, they were reaching into unknown waters. Fedex is probably driven by the reality that many document transfers are now happening electronically, and Kinko’s looked like a good diversification.

But they didn’t keep Kinko’s as Kinko’s. They renamed it Fedex Kinko’s which really makes no sense from a branding point of view. Then they dropped the Kinko’s altogether.

Kinko’s is a terrific and idiosyncratic brand of copy shops. “Kinko’s” means one thing: copies and computer services 24 hours a day. What’s Fedex doing in there? Now, they are stuck with a real branding problem.
But as authors and self-publishers, what lessons can we learn to help with our own branding?

"We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You." —Tom Peters

Personal Branding: The You That is You

The idea of personal branding has been around for a while. Some people trace the idea back to an article in Fast Company magazine by legendary author and business writer Tom Peters.

Now, in the age of full-blown social media engagement, when it seems that every author has a Facebook page, a blog, a persona that represents them, the move to personal branding is stronger than ever.

"The Web makes the case for branding more directly than any packaged good or consumer product ever could. Here’s what the Web says: Anyone can have a Web site. And today, because anyone can … anyone does! So how do you know which sites are worth visiting, which sites to bookmark, which sites are worth going to more than once? The answer: branding."—Tom Peters

The first thing you’ll have to do is decide what your brand will be about.

Some Questions To Ask Yourself About Your Brand

What will be your brand?
  • You as an author?
  • Your book, as a solution to a problem?
  • Your publishing company, as a provider of education or entertainment?
What Exactly Makes Up Your Brand?

You are branding yourself all the time—whether you know it or not. When you design your Web site or blog, when you pick out business cards, when you establish a persona through which you communicate with readers, other authors, book reviewers, you are branding yourself.

"I’m a writer, a marketing consultant, a wife and mother, a business woman, a coach, a loyal friend, a passionate seeker of new challenges and also someone who loves the quiet solitude of reading on a beach. That abundance of choices and gifts can sometimes muddy the waters when I’m trying to define my “brand” to myself and to potential clients."—Cindy Ratzlaff

How intentionally you do these activities can have a major effect on your own brand. The most effective personal brands for authors are:
  • Tightly focused
  • Consistent
  • In line with your subject matter
When I see the name John Grisham, immediately a brand leaps to mind—legal thrillers. Stephen King—horror stories. Robert Ludlum—action thrillers. Agatha Christie—genteel mysteries. Deepak Chopra—transcendental self-help. Are you thinking of your own examples? These are outstanding, consistent, tightly focused and congruent brands.

"Your external brand is how you project yourself to the world. There is an element of choice here. You can decide what to say or write in order to convey a certain image. Your projected image will influence what others think of you and how they might choose to interact with you. You may stumble upon this image accidentally, or you can deliberately target a specific type of image."—Steve Pavlina

When book buyers walk into a store—online or off—often they are looking for a brand rather than a book. “The new John Grisham” book. Booksellers (and Amazon’s algorithms) offer possible books based on branding. “If you liked Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point, you might like Dan Ariely’s Predicatably Irrational.”

This is true of many successful authors. When they want to write outside their usual style, they often do so under another name.

"Here are two main reasons why personal branding is becoming a core part of our culture . . . First, we are all being judged all the time, even when we’re sleeping (our online profiles are still up!). Second, we have to constantly sell our ideas to teachers, managers, venture capitalists, our friends and family, to make things happen in our lives. We have to convince them to take action."—Dan Schwabel

How do authors brand themselves? There are many ways. Your brand can be an expression of any part of your author presentation that ties people to your work. For instance, you could brand yourself by:
  • Region—”Author of Western Adventure Stories”
  • Genre—”Erotic Metaphysical Romances”
  • Recurring Character—”The Inspector Brown Mysteries”
  • Style—”Easy to Read Books on Woodworking”
  • Format—”1001 Ways to Manage your Career”
  • Persona—”The Gen-Y Novelist With Attitude”
  • Emotion—”The Feel-Good Books About Life’s Little Problems”
  • Notoriety—”The Trump Family of Casinos”
Really, any distinguishing characteristic can be the basis of a brand, if it’s emphasized consistently as part of your presentation.

Branding in the World of Web 2.0

We have accounts everywhere online. Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, Twitter, on and on. But do you segregate your personal correspondence and postings from your author brand?

"I’m not proposing that you let the crowd dictate, or that you work hard to fit in. Far from it. I’m proposing that you know the impact your choices are having and act accordingly."—Seth Godin

Brands establish trust. I grew up in a family that used Colgate toothpaste, that was our brand. Why buy a new or different toothpaste, one we didn’t know as well? We trusted our brand, and rewarded Colgate with our loyalty.

You want that trust from your readers and your community. If your brand is a sober, responsible and experienced tax advisor who writes books counseling people on the best way to save on taxes, how will your readers respond to those photos you posted of a wild weekend in Miami? This is the world we live in, it’s just a reality.

"Personal branding is leverage: once you know me, you start to build a relationship with me. Once we have a relationship, I can share even more with you. The more we share, the more likely we’ll have other common interests down the road."—Chris Brogan

Branding matters if you rely on establishing trust and inspiring loyalty. From the way you dress to the way you leave comments on other people’s blogs, you are constantly adding to your brand, and that’s why consistency is so important.

So when it comes to platform building, first sit down and think about the brand you want to establish. How will you present yourself and your book to the world? How will you keep it consistent, tightly focused, and in line with your subject?

"Figuring out your branding doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does need to be focused. I’m not talking about the kind of branding that requires hours of logo development. I’m not even talking about a brand that’s necessarily original. Yes, you want to be unique, but the key isn’t doing something no one else is doing, the key is doing it better."—Penny Sansevieri

After you’ve answered these questions you’ll be more prepared for your platform building. And to really find out how others see you, ask them. You’re likely to receive some really eye-opening feedback and advice. But if you care about the impression you’re making and how it reflects on your work, this is some of the most important listening you will ever do.


Here’s some great reading on personal branding that will help you get started.

Joanna Penn: How to Discover and Build Your Author Brand
Dan Schwabel: An Introduction to the World of Personal Branding
Chris Brogan: My Best Advice About Personal Branding
Cindy Ratzlaff: Five Secrets to Creating Brand: You
Steve Pavlina: Personal Branding
Tom Peters: The Brand Called You
Seth Godin: Personal Branding in the Age of Google
Penny Sansevieri: Don’t Be An Expert, Be A Filter (Secrets to Selling More Books)

Joel Friedlander is the proprietor of Marin Bookworks, a publishing services company in San Rafael, California that has launched many self-publishers. Joel is a book designer, a self-published author, and blogs about publishing, book design, and the indie publishing life at

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Writing Dialogue

by Margaret West

If I could write a book on the amount of questions that I’ve been asked with regards to dialogue, it would be an epic! Realistic dialogue doesn’t always come easily to everyone. But I can’t tell you how important it is. Dialogue advances a story and fleshes out the characters while providing a break from straight exposition. But, nothing pulls the reader out of a story faster than bad dialogue. It takes time to develop a good technique, but here’s a few guidelines that I use which might help.

Listen to how people talk. Don’t become a stalker or anything! Just eavesdrop and scribble down phrases you like. The right words can bring a character to life. Likewise, the wrong word/phrase can destroy the reader’s belief in the character. For instance, it’s unlikely that a builder would say “goodness me” or a solicitor would say “blimey. Dialogue should read like real speech. But, in saying that, real speech has words and sounds that would be distracting if included on a page. Words like “uh” and “oh” does not make dialogue sound more realistic. These kind of extraneous words look unprofessional.

Now comes the tricky part. Cut words and phrases out that don’t serve the conversation’s purpose. What I mean by that is, any dialogue should move the story forward while bringing your characters to life. If it doesn’t, cut it out altogether. Writers sometimes provide too much information at once through dialogue. It should never be obvious that you’re communicating information; otherwise you run the risk of info dumping. Give no character more than three uninterrupted sentences at once. You can trust the reader to remember details from earlier in the story. Make sure you break up dialogue with action, because physical details help to break up the words on the page.

Tag lines can be the bane of writer’s lives to write and read. Don’t try too hard to vary them. Veering too much beyond “he said/she said” draws attention to the tags. Readers tend to skim over them anyway. If you write “interjected,” or “ he sighed,” you’ve now drawn the reader out of the action you’re trying to create. If your dialogue is working, you won’t have to say any of these words in the tag line. Most of all, punctuate dialogue correctly. Nothing is more distracting to a publisher than a writer who doesn’t know how to use punctuation. A polished MS is no good if it’s covered in punctuation errors.

Born in England, Margaret West moved to the Kent countryside five years ago to get away from the busy life in London. She is married with two grown up children and has worked in various fields of work. She has been writing over 20 years in various fields: academic modules, novels, short stories, magazine columns and Blue Mountain Sympathy card range. Her main love is writing Romance and Paranormals novels.
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Book with a View September 2010

Author: Jeffrey D. Barbieri
ISBN: 978-1-4327-5717-5
Publisher:, 2010
Genre and Target Market: fiction; family relationships; coming-of-age
Pages: 256
Reviewed by: Sarah Moore

How often do you read a book that provides you with the accompaniment of a physical ache as you turn every page? I am not talking about a painful reaction due to poor writing or awkward plot development—I have experienced that sensation plenty of times during my tenure in the writing and publishing world. Instead, I am referring to a story or a character so compelling that you cannot help but have an emotional pull to the pages before you. I felt that strong connection to Frog, the new release by Jeffrey Barbieri. The second in a series featuring Benjamin and his complicated family, Frog is a novel that continues with the storytelling and poetic insights that made Barbieri’s first offering, Let’s Find You, so intriguing. But now, Frog extends the desperate expression of a young man looking for love, comfort, and a sense of belonging to an even more gripping intensity.

Frog brings us back into the world of Benjamin, the youngest of four brothers who all seem to express their feelings towards one another with taunts, insults, and the occasional beating. The boys live with their seemingly apathetic mother, who moves her family with great frequency in order to keep a distance from her former husband, and a stepfather who is only ever referenced in passing and who has no apparent influence on the family dynamics other than to amplify the obvious disconnect that always has existed. Benjamin has recently moved to yet another new neighborhood. He misses the girl, Elizabeth, who is the muse for so much of his poetry and who embodies his ideals concerning love and romance. He is self-conscious about his appearance and his lack of ability to engage in conversation, envying his brothers with their seeming ease around every person they meet. Anyone who has experienced those feelings of not belonging (and you’re lying if you say you haven’t), will relate to Benjamin and perhaps revisit some uncomfortable moments of their own.

For me, one of the episodes in the book that most clearly defined the combination of emotional pain and endless hope for something better that Benjamin expresses throughout his storytelling and poetry occurs during a quiet moment with his mom. Benjamin has just been stung by numerous bees and his mom rushes him to the bathroom to clean his wounds and apply a paste to the marks left by the insects. He shares that this medical emergency was the only time he could remember his mom ever showing interest in him or displaying the slightest amount of tenderness. You could tell that, despite the certain pain he was experiencing, Benjamin did not want that moment to end. It was quite a powerful interaction between parent and child upon which I was able to eavesdrop as a reader. I wanted to reach into the pages of the book, hold those two characters in that room, and give them both the opportunity to share all of the feelings that had been forced to repress for so many years.

For those already familiar with Barbieri’s work through Let’s Find You, you can expect to find the same short story format and the continued inclusion of Benjamin’s poetry on more pages than not when you read Frog. And, like before, I believe it is the raw honesty exhibited in each poem that makes the readers stop and really digest an intense episode that has just been described. What Frog also offers, though, is even more of those rare and simple moments when true human bonds are established. While I encourage everyone to read the book to discover Benjamin’s emotional fate, I will share that he does find new sources of strength and rediscovers others that he thought were gone forever. Frog is a wonderful story of survival, love, and that need we all have for human connection.

The Sid Series ~ A Collection of Holistic Stories for Children
Author: Yvonne Perry
ISBN: 0982572204
Publisher: Write On! 2009
Genre and target market: Children, Mind-Body-Spirit
Price/Currency: $14 soft cover; $6.99 for Kindle

Honoring a Child's Intuition
Children are born with an innate spiritual sense, with the high creativity that comes with intuition, and with self-love. But, unless they are guided to value these gifts, some combination of upbringing, society, or school often causes children to ignore these important elements of a happy life. It then takes a lifetime of experience for these same children to relearn the gifts they already possessed when they were very young. If you’re an adult—parent, grandparent, teacher—with important influence over a young child, how can you best nurture that child’s innate spiritual sense and holistic growth?

Reading to that child Yvonne Perry’s cleverly illustrated The Sid Series ~ A Collection of Holistic Stories for Children is an easy way to teach a young child about love, acceptance, self-worth, intuition, caring for the body, facing fears, dealing with change, and understanding the spiritual experiences most young children exhibit. The twelve individual stories in The Sid Series, told through a young boy’s visits with his grandmother, each focus on a different life skill, such as environmental awareness, helping others, being true to one’s self, overcoming fear, healing, and following inner guidance. During each of Sid’s interactions with his grandmother, their dialogue frames the lesson of that story and resolves the issue with Sid’s acknowledgement of the meaning of the experience.

To my mind, the real value of The Sid Series is its recitation of enjoyable stories about everyday events in a child’s life, with the adults honoring the child’s creativity, and thereby encouraging it. How often does that happen in a three-year-old’s life? If you’re an adult with significant influence in the life of a very young child, reading metaphysician Yvonne Perry’s The Sid Series to that child is an easy way to communicate powerful and loving messages about how to enjoy the dignity and worth of the human experience.

Jim Wawro, Author, Ask Your Inner Voice. While trying cases as an international lawyer, I discovered that some people have learned the secret to actively calling on inspiration whenever they need it. My books reveal the proven methods used by history's greats and regular people alive today for actively tapping into the wisdom that lies within you.

The Drawing Lesson
Author: Mary E. Martin
ISBN: 1450229360
Publisher: iUniverse
Reviewer: Vonnie Faroqui for WITS
The Drawing Lesson, by author Mary E. Martin stands among the best of literary fiction. She brings wisdom, grace, and beauty to the page as skillfully as the best painter to the canvas.

Alexander Wainwright has won Britain’s celebrated Turner Prize with a landscape painting of The Hay Wagon. He should be thrilled but the taunting criticism of contemporary and rival artist Rinaldo has thrown him into a soul searching spiral of self doubt.
His beautiful landscapes, once so full of light and presence, begin to fill with creeping, shadowy figures. These troll-like creatures deny understanding and confuse Alex's artistic vision. His muse seems to have left him. A journey to rediscover his passion unfolds as Alex attempts to understand the creatures in his paintings.

The journey carries Alex into contact with a range of interesting characters who all struggle with personal inner demons. Alex touches each of their lives with his spirit and allows each in return to touch his own. The action of the story rises as the consequences of past choices return to entangle Alex in self doubt and recrimination, with the story reaching a climax as Rinaldo sets plans in motion to destroy Alex in a scene of public humiliation.

In the end Alex Wainwright transcends himself and his body of work by illuminating the human form with his divine vision, transfiguring on canvas both his inner and outer demons into beings of luminous spirit.

The Drawing Lesson is a deeply insightful book about life, choices, forgiveness, madness, self doubt, and creative inspiration. Martin has an understanding of humanity, its inner turmoil, needs, and the creative urge that is both honest and compassionate. This is a compelling and moving story to be savored on the palate like fine wine.

Ask Your Inner Voice
Author: Jim Wawro
ISBN: 978-1-886940-70-3
Publisher: Ozark Mountain Publishing, Inc. June, 2010
Genre and target market: Body, Mind, & Spirit
Price/Currency: $14/hard copy; $9.99/Kindle
Purchase on Amazon :
Reviewed by Yvonne Perry for WITS
Follow the Yellow Brick Road!

Following intuition means we begin to pay attention to coincidence. Inspiration comes as a quick, mental picture or as a fully-formed thought. Because intuition often appears to be outside of the logical process, it may arrive when we least expect it such as while we are in the shower, or exercising, or driving to work, or at any other time when our intellect is not strongly focused on any particular set of thoughts.

Just like in the Wizard of Oz, the inner voice of intuition is nonjudgmental to the point of being totally impersonal: “Follow the yellow brick road.” Its messages are often short, to the point, completely helpful, and delivered in love; and, having spoken, moves on without staying to chat about our good and bad characteristics.

While on my way to work one day I heard a voice in my head say, “Turn right and take the other road.” I’m very glad I followed that instruction. When I reached the point where my alternate path intersected the route I would normally have taken, I looked to my right and saw a horrible (possibly fatal) accident that had happened less than a minute prior. Had I taken my normal route, I would have been at that very place when the incident occurred.

I’m also glad Jim Wawro, the author of Ask Your Inner Voice followed his intuition when he contacted me after reading an article I had posted on Dr. Caron Goode’s blog. Jim could have ignored his divine guidance, but I’m truly thankful to have the chance to read his book, learn more about intuition, and network with him.

Throughout the book Jim gives tons of stories about people such as Picasso, Mozart, Homer, Da Vinci , Bach, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, and others who have followed their feelings, hunches, inner urges, dreams, and deeper desires to reach their creative genius. These stories help support the author’s findings and define what intuition is and is not.

Chapter IV shares insight on listening to the inner voice, recognizing what it sounds like, how it is accessed, how we get messages, and how to determine whether what we are hearing is coming from divine guidance or from the voice of ego or others. Intuition is always neutral; it does not have its own agenda. It is instructive rather than fearful or flattering. You can test it by asking a few simple questions about the hunch you get: Is this the highest thought on this subject? Is this the thought that contains the greatest amount of love? Is this the thought that produces the grandest joy? If so, it is your inner guidance. If not, ignore it. A voice that is not reliably for the good of the whole, that comes from a place of scarcity, fear, or guilt, or that counsels harming another, is not the inner voice of divine guidance. When the directions received are followed, the inner voice becomes stronger. If the directions given are not followed, the voice becomes weaker. The universe respects our free will and will not shout louder if we are not listening.

Chapter III talks about how childhood conscience awakens. I especially liked this chapter because I feel it is very important to learn to recognize and follow divine guidance while we are still young. In my book, The Sid Series ~ A Collection of Holistic Stories for Children, there’s a story titled “Ask Your Body” that teaches children to hear and follow inner guidance by communing with their body. Just imagine how spiritually attuned the next generation would be if they were raised knowing how to consult their inner voice when making decisions!

“Try It” exercises at the end of the chapters help readers practice following intuition so it will be strengthened as it becomes more subtle. For example: You can use your intuition to make shopping more efficient by stopping for a moment, sitting quietly, and asking “Where do I find the article that I am looking for?” and then listening for the names of stores that come to mind. If you do not receive an immediate answer, just observe as you go about your routine. Often what you need appears as your intuition leads you to what you asked for.

When we follow our intuition, we have freedom from danger, accidents, and confusion. We become free to meet people by being at the right place at the right time. Without accidents, missed planes, struggle and conflict, we are more calm and less stressed. When we operate from intuition, things happen easily; and, as our intuitive abilities increase, so do the coincidences.
Overall, this book is full of helpful information to help readers discern the wise voice of intuition and follow through with action.

Queen Vernita Meets Sir HeathyBean the Astronomer
Author: Dawn Menge
ISBN: 978-1-4327-3120-5
Genre and Target Market: children; fiction
Publication Date: 2010
Reviewed by: Sarah Moore for WITS

Just earlier today, I sat riveted to a documentary on The History Channel that charted the presumed future of the sun. I watched a demonstration of how the gases that comprise this large star will eventually expand, consuming the Earth and other planets along the way, and then how all of the matter of the universe will explode under the force of a “dark energy” that has yet to be fully understood. I was fascinated by every moment of the program, and found myself imagining a class of children learning this exact same information. Would they find these details as amazing as I do? How can we help to encourage a desire to learn more about the expanse that surrounds us, as there is still so much more to know? In her newest addition to the Queen Vernita series, Queen Vernita Meets Sir HeathyBean the Astronomer, author Dawn Menge offers us one great tool that I believe will get children excited about space and astronomy.

For readers who are not already familiar with Queen Vernita, she is a character created by Menge to teach children about the months of the year and the days of the week through repetition, beautiful illustrations, and visitors whose personalities are pulled from the author’s own life. Each month, Queen Vernita welcomes a new friend to spend time with her and the readers learn what the two do or learn every day of the week. In Queen Vernita Meets Sir HeathyBean the Astronomer, the Queen invites Sir Heathybean and Cora the Teacher to stay at her home for an entire year and teach her and her friends about some of the heavenly bodies that surround us. Each of the nine planets, the sun, the moon, and asteroids and comets receives focus in the book.

What I love about Queen Vernita Meets Sir HeathyBean the Astronomer, and all of the books in the Queen Vernita series, is that Dawn Menge displays a contagious excitement for learning in each of her characters. They love spending time with Queen Vernita as they explore Venus or the sun or a comet, and each page ends detailing ways in which the learning will be extended when that month’s visitor returns home. This desire to discover is particularly important given the diversity of people who come to visit Queen Vernita. Males, females, the young, the old, and those who were born with physical or mental challenges—all are welcome and treated with respect and high expectations. I also enjoy the fact that the details included in this book go beyond the basic facts you would be expected to know on a fourth or fifth grade exam. For example, young readers will learn that Mars is called the Red Planet due to the iron oxide present on its surface and that the temperature in the center of Jupiter might be as high as 43,000 degrees Fahrenheit!

I had the opportunity to read Dawn Menge’s first Queen Vernita book, Queen Vernita’s Visitors, more than two years ago and became a fan immediately. All of her books are now regular parts of the bedtime reading routine in my house, per request of my preschool daughter. While my young girl enjoys the calendar repetition and the illustrations now, these books will only continue to grow with her as she understands more the higher-level details provided on each page. The newly-released third book in the series, Queen Vernita Meets Sir HeathyBean the Astronomer, Menge continues to offer the quality writing and attention to detail that her previous books provided and adds wonderful facts about a subject in which we really need to get more young people excited. This book is one that I recommend for every home collection and school library!

White Gold Railroad: Plaster City Narrow Gauge
Charles M. O’Herin
Link Pen Publishing (2008)
ISBN 9780977627912
Reviewed by Marty Shaw for Reader Views

Providing an in-depth look at the Plaster City Railroad, White Gold Railroad is great for train aficionados, train model enthusiasts, and history buffs. The book provides an in-depth look at the narrow gauge railroad, complete with detailed histories and both black-and-white and color photos.

The Plaster City Railroad is an example of progress by necessity. When Samuel W. Dunaway envisioned the creation of Imperial Gypsum and Oil Company in the 1920s, a way to transport the products from the quarry to the production plant also had to be created. Unlike other railroads that have occasionally doubled as a public transportation system, the rails at Plaster City have always been dedicated to the sole purpose of moving gypsum, a soft mineral used to make plaster, Sheetrock®, agricultural soil conditioner, and some cements.

The layout of the book makes information easy to find by splitting the history into distinct categories – Historical Summary, Trains & Operations, Structures, and Flora & Fauna. Detailed indexes make easy work of locating a particular figure or photograph by providing easy-to-read lists that provide page numbers, figure/photo names, and brief summaries of each item.

I thought White Gold Railroad provided an interesting look into the past, providing some provocative insight into Sam Dunaway’s efforts of transforming his vision into reality. Instances such as getting the attention of potential investors by including the word ‘Oil’ in the company name of Imperial Gypsum and Oil Company, although there was never any evidence of oil being found in the area, reveal how dedicated the man was to his idea… and how lucky he was that gypsum turned out to be such a profitable product that the lack of said oil never caused any investor relationships to turn sour. The fact that the Plaster City Railroad is still hauling loads of gypsum today is another testament to the vision of a man who saw potential where others did not.
I was also impressed by the work and the challenges faced by the engineers who were dedicated to making the railroad work. The terrain and weather of the Imperial Valley in California were not forgiving adversaries and a lot of work went into designing, and re-designing, a transportation system that could withstand the harsh environment.

With White Gold Railroad, Mr. O’Herin set out to create a book that would “give railroad hobbyists, enthusiasts, and historians equal consideration of their interests” and I believe he did exactly that with this detailed look at the Plaster City Railroad from its origins to its present-day operations.

The Lost Secret of the Green Man: Book 2 (The Crystal Keeper Chronicles)
Tiffany Turner
Trafford Publishing (2009)
ISBN 9781426921575
Reviewed by Evan Weldon (age 8) for Reader Views

The Lost Secret of the Green Man: Book 2 by Tiffany Turner is an AWESOME book! This book is about two girls who go into the fairy world to help save the bees that the fairies are finding dead everywhere. The first chapter is a little bit slow but the rest of the book is page-turning entertainment.

The book starts out on Wanda’s first day of middle school. Wanda is no ordinary kid. She is a Crystal Keeper and has a cat named Brewford who is a sorcerer. As a Crystal Keeper she does missions for the fairies. Once she gets to school, class starts and she meets a girl named Eddie. They become best friends. But unbeknownst to Wanda, Eddie, like her, is a Crystal Keeper and has a mission from the fairies. After school Eddie said that she knew a place that Wanda would like, so they ran to the park. At the park there was a little hill with a tree which was Eddie’s special tree for entering the fairy world. Then Eddie revealed to Wanda that she was a Crystal Keeper and that the fairy queen had a job for the two of them. All the bees were dying and that since the bees helped the fairies before, now it was time for the fairies to help the bees. So the girls headed to a crystal store to do research and found a book about the Green Man. The Green Man balanced the forest life but now that most people thought he was a myth, he went into hiding. Eddie and Wanda go in search of the Green Man in hopes that he will know why the bees are dying and can help them. Will they find the Green Man? Does he know what is happening to the bees? Can they save the bees? Is some evil brewing?
The mission was more dangerous and complicated than they had anticipated. Luckily, they had the help of Chyra, a unicorn, and Brewford’s crystal-ball reading teacher who was a cat. The crystal ball revealed secrets even graver than the bees dying. Will Wanda and Eddie be able to help? Will they survive?

I would recommend this book to all my friends. The Lost Secret of the Green Man: Book 2 book is great. There is something in it for everyone to enjoy. It leaves off on a cliff hanger, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the third book!

Viola, A Woeful Tale of Marriage
Author: Katherine Pym
ISBN: eBook: 978-1-59705-468-3, paperback: 978-1-59705-540-6
Publisher: Wings ePress, Inc. 2009
Purchase Kindle version on Amazon
Purchase print copy:
Reviewer Byline: John Claire

Viola, A Woeful Tale of Marriage is a well researched piece of fiction, and fast reading of 1660's London when King Charles II was brought back to England from exile.

Without being textbook, it is a story of common people and how they handle the changes in a government that's always deeply tied to religion, from Puritan's dower restrictions to the colorful openness of the Restoration. It confronts the confusing rules of what was Puritan and what will again be the Church of England.

Throughout the story, the detailed backdrop of London's lifestyle is remarkable, from walking on London Bridge filled with houses, churches and markets, and feeling the rush of the river's current under your feet, to eating in an 'ordinary'(eatery)of pasties stuffed with venison and mushrooms. As a reader, you travel through the noisy lanes, eat and drink in taverns that sound like they must have been there. You wander through the city crowded with the people's anticipation of the old 'Rump Parliament' being cast aside in favor of the King, as rumps of beef are roasted over bonfires that have sprung up and down the streets.

If you want to feel like you are there during this time of history, read Viola, A Woeful Tale of Marriage.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

A Reluctant Convert’s Tale

By Dana Marton
My first social networking experience was MySpace. I’d just built a modest friends list when people in the know declared that MySpace was dead.

Facebook was the next big thing. I figured this fad, too, shall fade. The very idea of Twitter made me shudder. Communicate in 140 words or less? My email signature line is longer than that. And, seriously, whose idea was it to ration words? It’s like rationing chocolate. (Banish the thought!) There wasn’t a single part of me that could get on board with that.

Then came the wakeup call from my publisher: low sales. They weren’t picking up the last couple of books I submitted. Picture a cartoon alarm clock with the top opening, a large hammer coming out and hitting me whack! over the head. I’m a fairly fast learner, so I grasped the significance pretty quickly: lack of promotion can kill a perfectly good writing career.

Do you think I have Facebook and Twitter accounts now? Plus, I’ve sent 20+ advance reader copies of my next release to online reviewers, requested author interviews with every book site that offers it, I’m blogging, guest blogging, taking and giving online classes. And it’s not as bad as I’d expected. I swear. If you haven’t yet, you could:

--Open Twitter and Facebook accounts and set up a profile.

--Post every day. You don’t have anything brilliant daily? When I don’t, I post something funny I’ve come across. My last Tweet: “Love is like a booger. You keep picking at it until you get it, then you don’t know what to do with it.” You’d be surprised how many people it made laugh.

--Interact with others. Give advice, send a virtual hug. Talk up your favorite books. Other authors will return the favor.

--Make it easy. I use TweetDeck, which lets me see at a glance if anyone mentioned me or responded to anything I’ve sent. I added links to my online presences to My Favorites window on my Yahoo page. I click down the list and quickly check and post a few times a day.

--Link. When I Tweet, it shows up on my Facebook and on my blog. When I blog, it shows up on my Facebook and Twitter.

--Take a class. I’m currently taking two, one from Beth Barany and the other from Marcia James. They each doubled (at least) my previous knowledge on this subject.

--Keep going. It WILL get easier.

Does it work? I’ve been doing this for only the last month, but already have higher Amazon ratings. I hooked up with a writing partner. I was asked to be part of a cookbook for charity. Was sent a link to WITS, and hey, here I am. I’ve made friends I wouldn’t trade for a multi-book contract.

As far as hard numbers go, I should have them soon and I’ll report back. I have two more books left on my previous contract. The first, THE SPY WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS, is coming out in October.

Dana Marton is the author of 25 romantic suspense novels. She’s the recipient of the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence, and a RITA© Award finalist. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages and are available all over the world; one was even turned into a full-size graphic novel in Japan. She would love it if you looked her up online and shared your own promo tips with her.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Reading to Write

If you’re a writer, resist taking your favorite book to bed with that cup of cocoa unless amidst the feathery softness of the pillows you won’t get mindless and drift off to sleep without remembering what you read ten minutes before.

That great story that’s twisted in the sheets with you contains all the reasons you need to be wide awake and focused when you’re reading. It’s a page-turner with well-drawn characters and a narrative smooth and pleasing to the eye and ear. The story emotes.

In his essay, “The Hanging,” George Orwell writes about a Hindu prisoner being taken to the gallows. The man is guarded by four warders: two holding rifles at his sides; two gripping him by the arms and shoulders. When the death procession is forty yards from the gallows, the prisoner sidesteps to avoid a puddle. This single detail becomes a crucial turning point for the narrator, a magistrate who has witnessed numerous hangings. Only now, seeing this particular prisoner attempting to keep his feet dry minutes before being hung, does the magistrate experience a moral revelation and realize the injustice of killing a man when his life is in “full tide.”

Reading is a great influencer as demonstrated so beautifully in Orwell’s essay. It’s the studious writer who sees authors such as Orwell position details from life in their stories in the most unique context.

Below are three key guidelines to help you read with a critical eye and get the most out a book in your hand that’s not your own.
  • Settle into a comfortable place, but not so comfortable as to invite the possibility of dozing. If you have a room of your own for writing, moving away from your desk helps to shift your mind from your current project (and from the seduction of checking your e-mail, facebook or twitter accounts). Staying in the same room alerts the mind that you are still working, just in another mode; cozying up in an easy chair is ideal. If your bed is the ultimate spot in the house where you do your best reading, sit up straight, preferably using a bed-lounger of some kind. Comfort is important so you are not distracted by aches or cramps. Because you are removed from your writing area, remind yourself that reading is part of your job, albeit from your nest of cotton sheets and down-filled quilt. 
  • Equip yourself with a highlighter for underscoring specific phrases or passages and a pen for making notes in the margins. Oftentimes another writer’s words inspire ideas for your own writing. Note specifically how an author expresses a commonplace action or familiar sentiment or scene in an innovative way. For example, in his novel, The Old Man and the Sea, Hemmingway writes of the scars on Santiago’s hands that were “as old as erosions in a fishless desert.” Readers are well aware that a desert is without fish, yet the adjective, “fishless,” makes the description smart and unique, since the story is essentially about an old man who hasn’t had a catch in eighty-four days. Keep a notebook and be on the lookout for the following things: vocabulary that strikes you and you’ve not used before; descriptors: words or phrases to use as models to create your own version; unconventional sentence or paragraph structure that works especially well; dialogue that is especially suited to the character. Add things of your own, and while you are supplementing your notebook, analyze why these literary devices make an impression.
  • Reading fiction out loud cannot be overestimated. Reading with the senses speaking the words, hearing the words, seeing the words, feeling the words will help you quickly take note of what makes the writing memorable.
When you speak the words, whether description or dialogue, the very act of forming the words should give you a pleasant sensation; the language should be fluid. Hear the words. Listen closely to the sounds they make. Does the author use alliteration to create the melody? Are the sentences clipped or do they meander? Similarly, when you see the words on the page, are they orderly, or intentionally disruptive as in Virginia Woolf’s masterpiece novel, Waves, in which she breaks all the rules in order to create her own poetic landscape. Most of all, you want to feel the words. Examine how the author uses language to incite emotions in the reader through the characters and/or story. In Joyce Carol Oates’ novel, Fair Maiden, a young woman named Katya aids the terminally ill and much older Mr. Kidder in killing himself. He is infatuated with her, and on this, the last night of his life, she poses as his newlywed bride. Oates writes: ‘“Here I am, Mr. Kidder. I am here.’ It was a vow, and a promise. Marcus Kidder would not die an ignoble death. Marcus Kidder would not die except in the arms of his bride.” As the reader, you feel the girl’s love and loyalty at the same moment you acknowledge the extraordinary disparity between her and her “husband.”
Details. They can make the story brilliant. Good details are worth savoring, and highlighting, and entering into your journal for future contemplation and learning. The caliber of the detailsapart from the “empty-calorie expressions” editors scorn for their meaninglessness are appreciated only by the kind of conscious reading you give them as outlined in these few paragraphs.

Read, and be enlightened. Otherwise, you might as well leave the book on your bedstead, turn out the light, and go to sleep.

Award-winning writer Ann Karen Dowd has nurtured a love relationship with the written word since she was a young child when much to her mother’s chagrin she penned verse on the walls of her bedroom with crayons. Embracing education as a path to reach her dream as an adult, Ann pursued her doctorate in comparative literature from the University of Hong Kong.

Ann published her first book, Echoes of the Heart (New York: Leisure Books), in 1988, and won the National Poetry Award from New Millennium Writing in 2004. Today, Ann’s writing reflects her scholarly focus in feminist studies, especially those themes having to do with language, self-identity, sexuality, and motherhood.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Network with Us September 2010

New media directory helps authors get more publicity
An affordable new resource for authors will help you get more publicity for your books in regional business magazines.

The Build Book Buzz City Business Journal Directory offers contact information for top editors at more than 100 city and state business journals nationwide. Authors of business and other books can use the directory to help:
  • Sell more books
  • Become known as a business “guru”
  • Get the kind of visibility that leads to high-paying speaking opportunities
  • Connect with the business community
“Because most city business magazines are published every week, they need a steady stream of newsworthy, interesting, and relevant information. And yet, most authors overlook these regional business publications when planning their publicity campaigns,” says Sandra Beckwith, a former award-winning publicist who compiled the directory. “That means these popular local magazines reaching millions of business readers are a gold mine for authors who can provide relevant and appropriate news and information.”

The directory provides editor names, specific (not generic) e-mail addresses, and telephone numbers along with the Web URL for each of the 93 city business journals and 20 state business publications listed. It also includes bonus insider tips for publicity success from Beckwith, the author of two publicity books and the instructor of a popular book publicity e-course for authors.

The directory is an Excel file that can be downloaded immediately. The price for the media list, insider publicity success tips, and a bonus audio file on “how to build book buzz” is just $19. To learn more and purchase, please visit
Contact: Sandra Beckwith,, 585-377-2768

The Dream Quest One Poetry & Writing Contest is open to anyone who loves arranging words into the beautiful art of poetry or writing a story that is worth telling everyone! And to all who have the ability to dream. Write a poem, 30 lines or fewer on any subject or write a short story, 5 pages maximum on any theme for a chance to win up to $500.00 in cash prizes. All works must be original. Poetry Prizes: $250, $125, $50. Writing Prizes: $500, $250, $100. Entry fees: $5 per poem, $10 per story. More info:

A new iPhone app called Kids Book Review makes hundreds of book reviews instantly available for books of all genres for ages 1-8, 9-12, and 13 and older. Created by the publisher of the Sacramento Book Review and San Francisco Book Review, the publications review more than 400 books each month in over 40 categories and genres. This iPhone app is easy to use and can be downloaded for only $1.99 from the iPhone App Store. Submitted by Scott Lorenz, President of Westwind Communications 734-667-2090

Are you passionate about supporting your age 3-7 child’s learning-to-read skills AND supporting global literacy for children—for just $4.99? Read I AM Foundation’s Blog post about author Joyce Shafer’s e-book, Pippi’s and Piper’s Outdoor Adventure. It’s designed to support pre-literacy skills through many pictures that match words, encourage family members to read it together, and to be printed out so children can color the several pictures included. Go to and see how you can make a difference today.

BK Walker is a published author that found book marketing to be one of the hardest endeavors for authors. Meeting several other authors and seeing the frustration on the book marketing aspect, she founded The Virtual Book Tour Cafe with authors in mind. Continually researching and learning something new everyday, she has successfully developed an outlet for authors to ease some of the stress which comes with getting the word out about books and authors.

Virtual Book Tours have become the next "big thing" in book marketing. Much like taking your book to an event, book tours are accomplished completely online. From author interviews and guest blogging to radio shows and live chats, The VBT Cafe will give your book the attention it deserves. With several packages to choose from, you will find that The VBT Cafe offers a variety of services to promote your book that are all budget friendly. Stop in to see what we provide, and book your tour today.


Literary Publicist Stephanie Barko is kicking off her new web address with a daily book giveaway from August 20 through September 19.

Comment to win at

The Veil by Stacy Dee just came out recently through Wings epress. It is a young adult romantic story… but that isn’t what sets it apart from other teen novels on the e-market. You see the author, Stacy Dee is dyslexic. She has struggled for years to overcome her insecurities and her limitations when writing. That’s also what gives the main character in her book, Emily, her edginess, which helps her overcome her own life obstacles. Like Stacy, the character Emily doesn’t let her dyslexia hold her back. It is a paranormal story which centers on a 16 year old girl who can see through a dimensional doorway to an alternate world… in this world she finds Jack Burns. The fact that Emily isn’t perfect makes her appealing to readers.

Are you an entrepreneur who sometimes struggles to make money, attract clients, create partnerships, set up a winning team, and spend time with Spirit? Join Amethyst Wyldfyre and a select group of her friends, colleagues, and mentors for the Six-figure Speakers Summit September 15th – 23rd. You can learn from the best of the best and immediately put their secrets and their not–so-secret strategies and techniques into ACTION for your business.
Click here to learn more.

New from Heather Kuehl – Malevolent Dead: Book Two of the Sarah Vargas Series. Werewolf Sarah Vargas thought all she had to worry about was the Blood Moon Corporation's retaliation. She never dreamed that another vampire would arrive, disputing Damian's claim over the throne to Charleston, SC. To make matters worse, he is no ordinary vamp; he's a vampire necromancer. He’s exceptionally hard to kill, and Sarah will have to do what ever she can to keep those that she loves safe... Even if it means doing the unthinkable. Book One of the Sarah Vargas Series, Fade to Black, is available now with Eternal Press. Go to to get your copies of Fade to Black and Malevolent Dead today! Heather Kuehl can be visited at her website;

Are you so busy trying not to “fail,” you don’t plan to succeed? Design, Plan, & Live Your Ideal Life and Business—an 8-week online course for spirituality-based individuals, entrepreneurs, employees, bosses, retirees, or if you’re in the planning stages of sharing a product or service with others, hosted by Empowerment Coach Joyce Shafer. Begin to stand in your personal, creative power, starting from where you are. Starts September 3, 2010. Limited to 20 attendees. Visit the link to learn more and about how to get the early-bird discount:

Shade of Grey by Yolanda Sfetsos

My Sci-Fi Romance novel is now available from Eternal Press. If you like a story about alien abductions, UFOs, government conspiracies, hidden organizations, alien hybrids, and MIB then you might enjoy this:
Is it possible to outrun fate?

The night two intruders dressed in black break into Gypsy’s store, a mysterious, sexy man comes to her rescue. Calvin has one objective—to keep both a secret organization and an alien clan from finding and taking Gypsy. But after they meet, his duty is overridden by his desire.

Together, Gypsy and Calvin travel halfway across the country, trying to stay one step ahead of their pursuers and dodging danger at every step. When they give in to their mutual attraction, neither realizes that it’s the one thing guaranteed to reveal their location to their biggest threat.

In the small Outback town of Backwater, human and alien greed will collide. Can their passion for each other be strong enough to survive the ordeal? Or will Gypsy’s destiny lead to an alien plan that could destroy everything?
Available in eBook: and print:

Damaged by Yolanda Sfetsos

Someone – or something – is living inside Lane’s basement…

Between the problems in her marriage, her writer’s block, and the heat situation inside the basement, Lane Blume is sure she’s going insane.

When Bill Sorreni goes to Lane’s house for a routine plumbing check, the last thing he expected was to be instantly attracted to her. But her problem isn’t something he can initially help her with, so he suggests she call a priest to take a look.

Can the compassion and understanding from Bill, a man whose faith might be just what she needs to help her out of the hell that her life has become, be strong enough to save Lane?

Damaged will be available from Damnation Books on September 1st, and will also be released in print.

You’re invited to an author roast and toast.

Who: Elaine Cantrell
When: September 24
Time: All day
Join Elaine as she celebrates the release of her new contemporary romance Return Engagement. Return Engagement is now available at

Lessons learned at the Book Passage Travel Writing Conference in Corte Madera, CA

I was very proud to rub shoulders with the best travel essayists alive today. Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales is nestled between Tim Cahill’s, Hold the Enlightenment and Rolf Potts, Vagabonding on center stage at the Book Passage Travel Writers Conference. While I came to share my work with others, I did not expect to receive encouragement and inspiration to carry forward. Phil Cousineau, an author I was not familiar with before I arrived, gave a talk about Stoking the Creative Fires. I didn’t realize it, but since the publication of my second book in May, I have been suffering from post partum. After listening to this brilliant, accomplished individual who has thought deeply about the subject of “Why Bother” to create, I felt not only justified but eager to get on to my next book!

Cousineau’s theme that art for “beauties sake” is worthwhile in our lives reminded me of John O’Donohue’s wonderful book The Invisible Embrace of Beauty. O’Donohue’s words re-enforced my own strong belief that “the secret to youth is to fill your mind with beauty.” Not that you will look any younger, but that your spirit will be replenished and freshened when your life is filled with beauty—be it a song, a book, a landscape or the smile of a child. I felt overwhelmed by a sense of serendipitous synchronicity when Cousineau revealed that he was a close friend of O’Donohue. I was saddened to learn that this thought-provoking man had died a year earlier at the age of 53. Perhaps, his work was done. I left the conference feeling mine had just begun.

Book Title: Looking for Jimmy Stewart
Author: Jeane Daly
ISBN: 13:978-1-59705-597-0
Publisher: eWings Press 3/10

Reviewed by Midwest Book Review found Looking for Jimmy Stewart a thoroughly engaging and superbly entertaining 248-page novel from beginning to end. This is the story of Andi Temperly, a woman who had everything she ever wanted, including the perfect job, a handsome fiancee, and loyal friends. Then one day everything she wanted was lost. Author Jeane Daly has a very special gift for writing in the demanding genre of contemporary romance.

Theofatalism™ Asks Its Followers to Feel Good Inside Regardless of What Happens Outside

Where do you go when your world is shaking and you realize that God is doing the shaking??? That was the challenge for a researcher and writer whose family disintegrated after the untimely death of his wife. In searching for some place of inner peace, he discovered the spiritual wisdom of Sedona, the namesake of a spiritual retreat in northern Arizona. Through five principles of Theofatalism™ and more than seventy essays on the condition of humankind, he provides a spiritual pathway to inner serenity and contentment regardless what happens outside.

His books, Voices of Sedona and Lessons from Sedona, use the symbol of a labyrinth to help describe the only way to live your life, God’s way. Through discussions involving history, economics, politics, psychology, religion, science, and more he shows that security is not in the absence of danger, but in the presence of God no matter what happens. His restatement of the belief in Deism will empower those whose belief system no longer fits their reality to “suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” Life breaks everyone, but you can become strong at the broken places.

When the student is ready the teacher comes. You can explore this new belief system at no cost or obligation. Visit To contact the author email or phone 703-321-9268.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Editor's Corner September 2010

Welcome to another issue of Writers in the Sky E-zine. Since our last issue my grandsons, Liam and Jonas, both have started walking and they are all about exploration of kitchen cabinets, TV remotes, bathrooms, dog bowls, doors, and wall plug outlets! Their arms must have grown longer too, because everything I thought was placed too high for them to reach is now accessible! They both now live in a "gated" community with playpens that provide spontaneous lock down that help conserve rolls of toilet paper and a provide a moment's rest for the parents.

I hope everyone who is going to school this fall has a wonderful year of learning and fun adventure. Sarah Moore—a former high school teacher and university academic advisor—is now offering writing tutoring for high school and college students who need an extra pair of eyes on their term papers, essays, and reports. She is also able to provide editing and proofreading for academic writing to be published in professional  journals or trade publications. You may email her at or phone her at 615-423-2467.

Also with the start of school, you may know a preschool, kindergarten, or early elementary school teacher who is looking for a great book to add to his or her classroom library or personal collection. May I suggest my book, The Sid Series ~ A Collection of Short Stories for Children? This collection of body-mind-spirit stories highlights unique lessons about love, acceptance, self-worth, caring for the body, diversity, facing fears, dealing with change, and the death of a pet. You may purchase the full-color printed book on Amazon for $15.95. The e-book is available for Kindle Reader ($6.99) as well as Sony reader, iPad, and other devises on

We've made a lot of changes to our team in 2010 and I'd like to take a moment to introduce all the talented players who bless my life so much: Sarah Moore is an academic tutor/writing instructor, editor, book reviewer, resume writer, podcast host, and provides backup for Vonnie Faroqui, our new author's assistant who coordinates and hosts our podcast and helps authors with book promotion. Editor "Eagle Eyes" Barbara Milbourn has been with our team the longest of any of our current members and continuously provides me with new information as she hones her craft. New member Dianna Calareso is a writing instructor and editor soon to be married and living in Nashville. She plans to offer writing workshops. Martin Smith handles writing for business including grants, proposals, white papers, and resumes. Karen Reddick has recently joined our team as a book editor specializing in fiction and nonfiction developmental content, copy editing, and proofreading. Rachelle Burk critiques and evaluates children's books. Jessica Gailbraith is our graphic designer and Letha Edwards is our Web master. Katie Perry is my step-daughter-in-law who works as my virtual administrative assistant.

We've also made a lot of changes to the services we offer. We invite you to take a look at our book marketing packages, writing resources, and writing blog. We will no longer be issuing this large (20- to 25-page) newsletter each month. Instead, we will send smaller increments to our subscribers on Fridays. You may read all of  our archives newsletters from 2006 to present at

My spiritual podcast, We Are One in Spirit, has had a variety of guests speaking on topics such as animal healing, raw foods, sound healing, the shifting of planetary consciousness, personal awakening, and finding oneness with the divine. If you are searching for answers that will lead you on a path to enlightenment and ascension, check out the blog: and archived shows.

This issue of WITS E-zine was proofread by WITS team member Martin Smith and my mother, Doris Mauldin. I appreciate the contributions everyone has made to this community e-zine.

Monday, September 6, 2010

New Authors' Perceptions: Fact or Fiction?

By Dawn Menge

“On Wednesday, Judy and Queen Vernita learned that whales breathe through a hole on the top of their head called a blowhole.”

“Everyone knows that!” Replied the cutest eight year old.

“On Monday, Dawn learned that Bald Eagle’s feathers are white on top. That is why they are called Bald Eagles.”

“Everyone knows that too!” She chimed in again.

At that point I had no choice but to giggle. I was attending my fourteenth event this summer. I had been traveling throughout the Southern California Libraries reading each of my two award winning educational books. I honestly felt the same way she did. Hadn’t we heard this story before? So, I agreed with her and kept on reading.

I was so glad when I finished, it can be very disheartening to have a child critique your work. As I was cleaning up my things feeling less than successful the librarian came over very excited. She wanted to know when I would be available for another reading. It seems that people had been calling her during my reading to find out how long I would be there, the library had never had so many people at a children’s reading before. She had immediately called the head librarian to let her know how successful the event had been! I left the event feeling puzzled on my own perception of the evening.

My grandmother who is 89 is the main character in the Queen Vernita series, we thought it would be a wonderful addition to the two events I had on the same day in San Diego County if she came. She was more than thrilled at meeting all of the little children, sitting in front of them as they politely listened to me read. Helping with the crafts afterwards, being interviewed by the local newspaper and having her picture taken over and over again. At the end of our second event we spent the night at a local bed and breakfast. We happily went to bed early from pure exhaustion. As we got up the next morning to have breakfast the hotel owner stopped us and said, ‘I saw you in the newspaper”.

“Yes, we were at the library yesterday.” I said. He turned to my grandmother and said, “You are the Queen.”

“Why, yes I am.” She smiled radiantly.

He then pulled out the newspaper article and asked us both to sign it. He said he was creating a display of the famous people who had stayed in his bed and breakfast. My grandmother was tickled pink by this comment. I on the other hand went straight back to the memory of little girl who had all the answers. Perception, perception!

As a new author of only two years I have found the experiences I have had to be a constant roller coaster ride of emotions. I published my first book just as an extension of my profession as an educator. It won two awards within months and received great reviews. Many of the reviews began to ask when the next one was coming out. I then wrote my second one on my adventures in Alaska.

My third in the series was written with my brother whose expertise is astronomy. They say you should write what you know, my books are about my background, family, friends and traveling. That I have found to be the most rewarding part for me as an author.

I’ve had the opportunity to participate in the Right to Literacy signing event at its only stop in Southern California. We were given the privilege of signing the scroll at the San Bernardino City Library.

The Declaration for the Right to Literacy begins:

It is a truth held evident by our United States Declaration of Independence: that all men [and women] are created equal, and thus shall have the opportunity to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. To preserve these rights, we, residents of the United States of America, designate "literacy" as the foundation of such principles and organize our powers to enable every person to affect that ideal. In that pursuit, we acknowledge and agree, as we did in Seneca Falls in 1848 and again 100 years later as part of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, that education shall be guaranteed for all members of the human family - men, women and children. The realization of this vision requires that all residents, regardless of age or status, be able to read and write in order to participate fully and equitably in our democracy . . . .

I spent the day next to other award-winning local authors. Many of which have accomplished so much. The ladies beside me had a PBS special created to promote their book, another author wrote a book about her daughter who had ADHD, another created her own publishing company, and then there was Phil Yeh, a very famous cartoonist and activist. I had such a wonderful day; I was in a whole new world and loving it.
Success comes in many forms. For me the process of writing, sharing, building on the educational foundation for our children and expanding myself professionally and personally are the rewards. Do what you love and love what you do!

Dawn Menge is the award-winning author of the educational series Queen Vernitas Visitors, Queen Vernita visits the Blue Ice Mountains and Queen Vernita Meets Sir HeathyBean the Astronomer. Dawn Menge holds a clear credential and masters in special education and is a doctoral candidate at Capella University in curriculum and instruction. She is employed by San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools and has taught the severely handicapped for over a decade.

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Saturday, September 4, 2010

We are One in Spirit Podcast Schedule

September 2
Amethyst Wyldfyre joins Yvonne Perry on We Are One in Spirit Podcast to discuss journeying within to find answers to life's questions. Amethyst  is a multidimensional visionary healer, speaker, performer, teacher, artist, and the author of Magical Questions: A Spiral Journey of Spiritual Awakening.  She specializes in serving highly influential transformational coach/trainers, speakers, performers, artists and alternative healers to LEAP fearlessly into their highest level of service to the planet. Using a Native American instrument and tradition, she will take our listeners on a shamanic voyage.

September 10
Author Mary Martin returns to WITS Podcast to continue her conversation with WITS author's assistant and podcast host, Vonnie Faroqui. Mary is the author of The Drawing Lesson, which may be purchased for the Kindle reader or on Amazon as a paperback book.

September 16
Yvonne Perry will interview guest author Luis Angel Diaz We Are One in Spirit Podcast about his book, Memory in the Cells. Luis is one of the world's foremost authorities on emotional healing. He has been a holistic health practitioner since his early twenties. He began his studies in his homeland of Argentina where he earned degrees in traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, herbology, and shiatsu. Eager to gain new knowledge and skills, he acquired certifications in homeopathy, hypnotherapy, Touch for Health, specialized kinesiology, NLP, EFT, reflexology, and many others.

September 23
Joe Carroccio will share his book, The Law of Distraction, as he is interviewed by Yvonne Perry on We Are One in Spirit Podcast . Joe’s skills as an educator, trainer, speaker, author and entertainer inspired him to create, present and make known the Law of Distraction and Interruption.  He will discuss how life’s distractions, if you allow them, will keep you from achieving your goals and dreams; and how interruptions either slow you down or completely stop you from what you set out to accomplish. 

September 30
Whether you are a beginner or deep into your spiritual practice, Harriette Knight's book, Chakra Power!, offers numerous tips and tools to fire up your energy centers so you can feel healthier, happier, and more alive! Find out what your chakras do and how they affect every aspect of your life. Harriette is going to give psychic readings for those who submit questions prior to 1 p.m. You may email your question to LavendarRose @ comcast dot net (you'll need to convert this to an email address).
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Friday, September 3, 2010

Build Your Author Platform with Online Forums

by Dana Lynn Smith

Forums provide a great way to network with people who share your interests, to build your reputation as an expert, to learn from others, and to subtly promote a book.

These free online communities (also called discussion groups, list serves, bulletin boards, and newsgroups) can be Web based or function as email lists. Either way, they let people who are interested in a particular subject ask questions, offer solutions, and share experiences. Some posts recommend resources of interest to the group or are otherwise informational. Many forums are moderated, so that each message is approved before it is posted.

Joining Forums

To find forums related to a particular book’s topic and target audience, search Yahoo Groups  and Google Groups, and type "[your keyword] + forum" into a search engine. You can also search for a keyword on Google—click Show Options (near the upper left) and then click Forums. Larger and more active groups will give you more exposure, so it's best to concentrate your time there.

On some forums, you can specify whether you want to receive each message as it's posted or receive a daily digest. If the forum has a place for member profiles, upload your photo and enter biographical information and links to your Web site or sites.

When you join a forum it's best to lurk for a while first, to get a feel for the group and the level of expertise. Also read each group's rules. Then look for opportunities to respond to posts in a helpful way. You can also gain visibility by posting a question.

Participating in Forums

For maximum benefit, you'll need to participate regularly. When you receive the digest of posts, it's easy to skim the text, looking for anything that you can respond to. After you make a post, check back to see if you need to respond to any replies it receives.

Forums usually allow you to list promotional information in your sig, but signature blocks may be restricted to a certain number of lines. Ideally, yours will include your name, your book title(s), Web site URL(s) and related specifics.
In most forums, it's okay to mention your book when responding to a question, as long as you are subtle. For example, you might say: "In researching my book XYZ, I found that …"

And some forums allow purely promotional posts, including posts that announce a new book or an author event. Just make sure you're following the rules for each forum you use.

Here are some general publishing forums to consider joining:
Self Publishing
POD Publishing

Forums on Social Networks

Many social networks, including Facebook and LinkedIn, allow users to join “groups” made up of people who are interested in a particular topic. These groups usually offer a discussion feature that works like a forum—members can post questions and others can reply with comments and suggestions.

To find groups on Facebook, type a keyword into the search box at the top of the screen, click on “see more results” at the bottom of the window that opens, then click on “groups” in the left column. To find groups on LinkedIn, type a keyword into the search box at the top of the page, use the drop-down menu just to the left of the search box to select “groups,” then click the blue magnifying glass to the right.

No doubt, you will be able to find other forums that are relevant to your book and target audiences.

Dana Lynn Smith is a book marketing coach and author of The Savvy Book Marketer's Guide to Successful Social Marketing. and several other book promotion guides. For book promotion tips, visit The Savvy Book Marketer blog. Get a copy of the Top Book Marketing Tips e-book when you register for her free book marketing newsletter. For more book marketing tips, follow Dana on Twitter or visit .

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Six-figure Speakers Summit

Truly successful entrepreneurship is an art form—a fine craft that can take years to hone. The Six-figure Speakers Summit runs September 15th through 23rd in which twenty speakers will come together for an exciting event. Each of these phenomenal speakers has special expertise and special techniques for creating the thoughts, habits, and actions that allow YOU to have the conversations, speak the words, and communicate the messages that will help you to not only serve the people you are here to serve but will also help you to get the money and other successes you want in the process.

Join Amethyst Wyldfyre and a select group of her friends, colleagues & mentors for the Six-figure Speakers Summit. Click to learn more.

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