Friday, October 28, 2011

Get your kids reading, plus get your name in a drawing to win a Kindle!

Buy my book, and you could win an E-reader!

If you buy any Solstice Publishing book from their site between now and December 24th, 2011, your email address will be entered into a draw to win a Kindle E-reader! If you purchase a Solstice Book from another site, you can still be eligible by emailing the receipt to
The winner’s name will be drawn on December 25, 2011, and they will have two weeks to claim their prize.
If you’re still on the fence, here’s a handy promotional code for 10% of any e-book purchase: IZISQD37H

Hike Up Devil's Mountain would be a great book for your kids!  Books are the perfect gift for any occassion!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chris Eboch - Author, Teacher, Critiquer and brutally honest

1.                  Your resume is very impressive:  author (both children and adult), teacher, editor, blogger, only to mention a few.  I know that writing is not for wimps and I would like to ask if you ever thought of just hanging it all up due to rejections? 

Yes I have, Penny. I had a lot of lean years in between the successes, and even now I struggle to make a living as an author/critiquer/teacher. It takes a lot of time and hard work to learn to write well, but even if you do everything you can, there’s still a lot of luck involved.

I got lucky with my first novel, The Well of Sacrifice, a middle grade adventure set in ninth-century Mayan times. Lucky because it tapped into an unexpected (to me) market of schools who use the book as supplemental classroom material when they teach about the Maya, and lucky because I didn’t make a lot of beginner’s mistakes. If I hadn’t had that first sale, I don’t know if I would have had the stamina to keep working through the next five unpublished manuscripts.

And even today, I have times when things seem to be going so badly that I’m tempted to chuck it all – except I don’t know what else I’d do! Plus, I’m happiest when I’m writing.

One thing I often suggest to students – keep in mind that you are trying to switch careers, and if you wanted to become a nurse or accountant or lawyer, you would expect to go back to school and spend several years studying, and then have to work your way up from the bottom. Writing well is just as hard as other jobs, so don’t expect to be successful overnight.

Most of us start writing because we think it’s fun, but focusing on publication can suck the fun out of it. Give yourself a break and focus on your craft for the first few years. Don’t waste your time and emotional energy (and editors’ time) by trying to rush into publication right away.

2.                  You write for both kids and adults.  Do you find it harder marketing your children’s books?

Actually, I started with children’s books and have built up something of a reputation, at least among other children’s book writers and some teachers. And 12 of my books were traditionally published. I’m not saying the publishers did a lot of marketing, but at least the books were in their catalog and got reviewed in standard journals such as Kirkus and School Library Journal.

I decided to self-publish The Eyes of Pharaoh, so I’m publicizing that on my own. One thing I’ve done is e-mail teachers who’ve contacted me because they’re using The Well of Sacrifice in the classroom, to let them know I have another historical fiction out.

When I started writing for adults, I chose a different name, so as not to confuse readers. But because I am not known at all as “Kris Bock, romantic suspense writer,” I have to start my marketing efforts from scratch.

Add to that the fact that I decided to test the Indie publishing waters with my first romantic suspense novel, Rattled, so I don’t have a publisher’s marketing department behind me. It’s been a challenge to get attention, but at least I have time to let things built slowly, without the pressure of a publisher looking at sales numbers.

3.          What do you think YOUR best method of marketing is?

I’ve been dabbling here and there – GoodReads and LinkedIn groups, for example – but I’m not convinced that a lot of these social networking efforts pay off for the amount of time you have to put into them. I do post good news on Facebook. I haven’t tried to Friend hundreds of strangers, but I figure people who know me – including those from my past, who wouldn’t otherwise have any idea what I’m doing – are most likely to try my books anyway. You have to hope for a ripple effect – someone tells a friend, who tells a friend, who....

It’s hard to track results, but one thing I think could help is a service called Book Rooster I used to increase my number of Amazon reviews for Rattled. You pay $50 and the electronic version of your book, along with your blurb, is made available to hundreds of Kindle reviewers. They make it available until 10 people have posted reviews. The reviewers don’t get paid, and they are expected to be honest, so it’s not like you’re really paying for a review, but rather for the service that helps you find reviewers.

In the two months after I signed up, I got another 10 reviews, all three, four, or five stars. I know as a buyer I’m much more likely to take a chance on an unknown author if I see multiple reviews and a high average rating. Rattled now has 17 reviews and an average rating of over four stars, which would attract my attention as a reader of romantic suspense.

Of my self-published books, my most successful so far has been my writing craft book, Advanced Plotting. I’ve been able to draw on my reputation as a writing teacher and to promote it when I give workshops. Plus, my blog, Write Like a Pro!, is a natural spot to promote the book, with excerpts from the essays.

Thanks for your questions, Penny!

Learn more about Chris and read excerpts of her work at (for children’s books) or (for adult romantic suspense written under the name Kris Bock) or see her Amazon page. You can also read excerpts from Advanced Plotting, get other writing craft advice, and check out her critique rates and recommendations on her blog.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bob Stewart comes a calling

Hi Bob and thank you for visiting with me today.  First, congratulations on your book, Alias Thomas A Katt, through Solstice Publishing!  Give us the lowdown!

The cat in the picture is Schyler, our family pet, and one night while watching the Maltese Falcon I begin to wonder what Schyler would be like if he switched bodies with Humphrey Bogart in the movie, a "noir" classic. So, I decided to write the book.

Chapter One
I hate water, holy or not. So much that sleep last night was a series of fitful catnaps interrupted by nightmares of a barbaric yearly ritual performed in the name of all that‘s holy.

Mustering all the pathos I could, I looked up into Mallory‘s deep-set emerald eyes as we shuffled along the queue for the Blessing of the Pets. The line stretched outside The Mortuary Chapel and across the street into the cemetery.

She stroked my fur, and then gave me a big grin. "What are you thinking?"  She bent over to hug me closer, whispering in my ear. The scent of magnolia blossoms drifted from her hair as I raised my face to be nuzzled. "Sometimes I think you understand more than people realize."

I do understand. I just wished she understood that I did.

"You pay more attention to that damn cat than you do me." The jerk she calls her current boyfriend has a way of ruining the finest moments. His voice was proof that even in near tropical New Orleans a chill can penetrate the normally temperate October air.

"Don‘t be silly, Tom. I‘m just loving my cat."
"Next thing I know you‘ll put one of those medals around my neck. Maybe you should, then I‘ll get to sleep with you, too."

Mallory‘s hand secretly sought out the Saint Expedite medal on my collar. She bought it for me the first time we came here, put it around my neck, and it never came off. She wears a matching one that drops below the neckline. She used to wear it over her blouse, until she met Current Jerk.

Saint Expedite could teach Current Jerk some manners. I visualized ol‘ Expedite, standing tall in his niche just inside the front entrance of the church, a young Roman soldier dressed in an historic battle tunic, brown hair tossed in the wind. Instead of the short sword used by grizzled legions to conquer the ancient world for the likes of Julius Caesar, he grasps a cross raised high above his head, ready to cold-cock modern-day heathens right and left.
Like all great historic warriors, Saint Expedite is swift to take action when petitioned. He is even more of a patron saint of lost causes than that wimpy Saint Jude, or that sissy Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of 8 animals, who is about to cause water to be dumped all over my head. These guys run around in dresses, for heaven‘s sake.

As we neared the entrance, every sinew in my body went taut; I‘ve heard it said that the only things certain in life are death and taxes. I know a third to add to that list.
Only Mallory‘s sweet touch and Saint Expedite‘s courage could get me through this, barely, because Expedite‘s one tough cookie. I‘ll tell you how tough he is. He‘s a saint without portfolio because his arrival in New Orleans was sparked by a quirk of tragedy, according to a tour guide I heard on the Travel Channel.

A special chapel was built to speed the funerals through St. Anthony of Padua during the 1826 Yellow Fever epidemic. That piece of grim history earned it the nickname of The Mortuary Chapel. Grieving relatives would scribble the name of a saint on a casket before leaving it at the door of the chapel. The priests would swiftly perform a funeral mass in the name written on it, and shove the contaminated container out the door to a final resting place in the cemetery across the street.

One smelly casket had the word expedite scrawled across it. The priests glanced at the word, and chanted a funeral mass to Saint Expedite. When they  discovered the error, it was decided to create a Saint Expedite medal in a good-humored effort to acknowledge the mistake. No one took ol‘ Expedite seriously. After all, he‘s just the figment of a priest‘s fertile imagination. But I always took him seriously. Besides being a good yarn, it just seems to prove the old saying that people are only human or to err is human or whatever cliché fits best. Of all the saints, he‘s my favorite, even if he isn‘t real.

But, Mallory is real. So is her love. I snuggled into her arms in smug satisfaction. In spite of the pending water torture, there‘s no way life could get any better.

Boy, was I in for a surprise.

ALIAS THOMAS A KATT can be purchased at

By THOMAS A. KATT ....... 
So, Penny asked Bob Stewart to be a guest author on her excellent website. He eagerly agreed, but after several horrible attempts, I decided it was time for me to take over. After all, I did write a book about my adventures, ALIAS THOMAS A. KATT, and it did get a five-star review on Amazon.
People often ask me: “What’s a nice cat like you doing in a human body?”
That’s a tale mixed up with a fake saint, the mob, a unique serial killer, my own true love and an adventure based on one of literature’s top themes – a stranger in a strange land. And, believe me, there’s nothing stranger than humans. They kill for fun instead of food. They steal for profit, instead of food. Seldom do they love for the pure unadulterated joy of putting another creature first.
As a counter-point, I offer animals and children as illustrations. To my knowledge they are the only creatures that offer unfettered love.
 So, I ended up on the horns of a dilemma the faithful day my fondest dream became a reality and my worst nightmare.
            My fondest dream? To have human interaction with Mallory, not limited to purring and mewing.
            My worst nightmare? To discover that her cop boyfriend – Tom A. Katt – is a mob enforcer/serial killer for money and Mallory is now on his hit list. I may be in the body of a murderer, but I’m no serial killer.
The dilemma: To save her by learning to successfully masquerade as a human. My knowledge of the human world is limited to television, movies and the books Mallory read to me on rainy New Orleans afternoons. And, how do you use those pesky opposable digits, anyway?
            The horns of the dilemma: Mallory is momentarily safe since Tom is in a cage in my cat body at the vet’s office. There’s always a chance we switch back, leaving Mallory in the arms of a killer. In case we don’t, I must rehabilitate Tom’s reputation. I don’t plan to go to prison or be strapped on a gurney for something a human did.
So, you ask, again: How does a nice cat like you come to be in a human’s body?
My adventure starts with the annual Blessing of the Pets when a faux saint named Expedite tumbles from his church pedestal to knock me into another dimension.
Also, Bob Stewart needs to take his share of the blame. After having four nonfiction books published, one a Literary Guild alternate selection, and another book named a True Crime Book of the Month selection, he started writing fiction. He’s a retired journalist who has worked for several major newspapers, reported freelance for Time and Life, and was on staff at People magazine. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing, the fiery Branch Davidian standoff, and three of the school shootings, including Columbine, along with celebrity assignments.
You have to watch him, though.
He claims he wrote this 72,249-word tale, but we know better, don’t we? Check out whose byline is on this piece.
And yes, that’s my picture on the cover.

Bob's latest release is HIDDEN EVIL, a journey into the mind control that makes occults so sinister. There is nothing that goes bump in the night in this novel. There is only the evil that comes when a master manipulator desires the daughter of a deputy sheriff after a teen-ager turns the Battle of Flowers Parade into a blood bath. Deputy Sheriff Nancy Neff turns to minister Luke Oeding for help in a battle against evil as ancient as as the ages, yet  as revelant as today's news report. Easter Sunday finds Luke locked in a bloody crypt in a battle both physical and spiritual. HIDDEN EVIL can be purchased at Novel Concept Publishing.

You can also check out Bob's website at or visit him on facebook at writerbobstewart.

-----Original Message-----

Friday, October 14, 2011

Get your kids reading AND enter a chance to win a Kindle!

Buy my book, and you could win an E-reader!

If you buy any Solstice Publishing book from their site between now and December 24th, 2011, your email address will be entered into a draw to win a Kindle E-reader! If you purchase a Solstice Book from another site, you can still be eligible by emailing the receipt to
The winner’s name will be drawn on December 25, 2011, and they will have two weeks to claim their prize.
If you’re still on the fence, here’s a handy promotional code for 10% of any e-book purchase: IZISQD37H

Hike Up Devil's Mountain would be a great Halloween book for your kids!  Books are the perfect gift for any occassion!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Jeanne Bannon stops by with her take on writing groups and teases with a bit of her new novel, Invisible!

I’ve worked in the publishing industry for over twenty years, mostly as a freelance editor. I started my career as a freelance journalist but quickly learned I could not earn a decent living in that line of work. I turned to editing and worked for a large Canadian publisher for five years. Today, I still work as an editor, but only do freelance work. This gives me the flexibility to do what makes my heart sing...write!

My first novel has just been released by Solstice Publishing. It’s a YA novel entitled Invisible. Just to give you a little taste, here is the blurb:

Lola’s not pretty. Lola’s not popular. Lola wishes she could disappear … and then one day she does just that...

For seventeen-year-old Lola Savullo, life is a struggle. Born to funky parents who are more in than she could ever be, Lola’s dream of becoming a writer makes her an outsider even in her own home. Bullied and despised, Lola still has the support of her best pal Charlie and Grandma Rose.

Not only is she freakishly tall, Lola’s a big girl and when forced to wear a bathing suit at her summer job as a camp counselor, Lola’s only escape from deep embarrassment seems to be to literally vanish. Soon after, she discovers the roots of her new “ability”.

Slowly, with Charlie’s help, Lola learns to control the new super power. The possibilities are endless. Yet power can be abused, too…

Then, when tragedy strikes, Lola must summon her inner strength, both at home and at school. She has to stand up for herself, despite the temptations and possibilities of her newfound super power.

A coming-of-age story that will warm the heart.

I’m currently finishing up work on a paranormal thriller tentatively titled Dark Angel. I actually started this novel two and a half years ago and wrote Invisible because I needed a break from writing DA. It only took four months for Invisible to pop from my head onto the page. If only all books were that easy!

Purchase links for Invisible:

My links:

Facebook author page:


Twitter: @JeanneBannon

Book trailer:

The value of a good writing group

As far back as I can recall, I’ve written. My life long dream has always been to be a published novelist and that dream has finally come true now, in mid-life. I’ve often wondered why I didn’t write that elusive novel earlier. It wasn’t for lack of trying. I’ve lost count of how many novels I’d started and gave up on. But writing was hard work. It was solitary. It was boring. What was it that made the difference? The answer is simple. I found an online writing group.

Writing is a much easier process when you have like-minded individuals ready and willing to provide feedback. At first, when my writing wasn’t up to par, the criticism stung, but I never got angry with reviewers. In my heart I knew they were right and that the criticism was given out of a genuine attempt to help me become a better writer. I learned an awful lot from my writing group and credit those fine fellow authors with much of my success in not just completing my novels, but in making them the best they could be.

As well, knowing I had “fans” waiting for my next chapter made me to want to write. I had a purpose and reason to sit down and pen that next chapter. Someone out in cyberspace was waiting for it! Belonging to an online writing group has also provided me unexpected rewards. I’ve made friends with so many fabulous people. Friendships that will undoubtedly be lifelong.

Over the years I became a senior member of the group and was then in the position of doling out advice; becoming a teacher of sorts. I know I’ve helped others become better writers and that too was rewarding. Although these days with time at a premium, I’m not as active in my group as I’d like to be. However, I will continue to belong and participate when I can. They are my lifeline to advice, to friendship, to encouragement and to anything else I need to keep motivated.

If asked for writing advice, I would say the best thing for an aspiring novelist is to look around for a writing group. It doesn’t have to be an online group like mine. There are plenty of face to face groups out there, but the feedback and encouragement is invaluable…better than any workshop or course I’ve ever taken.