Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Guest Blogger--Sherrie Cronin Teaches Us How to Get Interactive!

Today's blogger has approached the business of publishing in a unique and innovative way! Welcome, Sherrie!

My first novel, x0, is a work a of speculative fiction that is meant to be strongly grounded in reality. It involves the oil business, Nigeria and a telepathic link between two very different women. One of my challenges was conveying enough information about Nigeria to make the plot interesting and believable without embedding too much extraneous text into the book. I knew that some readers would be far more curious about the subject than others. The solution I came up with was to imbed links to extra material. The nice thing about the links was that I could send the willing reader to everything from the U.S. State Department’s website to individual Nigerian’s personal photographs posted on their own blogs.

My other challenge was that I wanted the telepathy in this story to have a high chance of tying into my reader’s own personal experiences. I made music a central part of the plot, suggesting that a song in one person’s head is the easiest thing to transmit to another. It was hard to do this without mentioning specific songs and lyrics, and I ended up buying the rights to use words from two of my favorite songs. Turns out that is fairly expensive, and buying lyrics from all ten songs just was not a realistic option. Embedding links to music became, once again, the perfect solution. The songs ended up forming a sort of soundtrack to the book, and now I list them all on my website and they can even be bought as a playlist on iTunes (search under ping for x0: Lola’s songs.)

Once I had gone down the path of embedding internet sites about Nigeria and music, it turned out that there were a ridiculous number of other things to which to link, and the next issue was learning to control my enthusiasm. I had already decided that my plot had to work just fine without the internet, out of respect for any readers who did not have web access on their devices and for the sake of those who simply did not wish to go zapping around cyberspace while reading. So I made the decision to limit myself to no more than five links per chapter. That bit of imposed self-discipline forced me to think about whether a particular website loaded quickly, provided succinct information and really was likely to add anything to a reader’s experience. I think it was a worthwhile exercise.

I have been asked how I plan to handle the problem with websites becoming defunct or changing their URL’s. I understand that there is a certain level of upkeep involved that isn’t present in most novels. The book itself specifically includes an email address for alerting the author to links which no longer work. I am hoping to be able to offer alternate websites to future readers via my own website, but I have to recognize that this approach makes my novel a bit more of a living thing that requires care and feeding. I do know that other authors are experimenting with this idea also and I am curious whether in the end writers and readers will find this approach worth the effort and the problems.

x0 was published in late February of this year, and I just had my first book club read and discuss the book with me. I was delighted to discover that most of the readers liked the links and reported that they stopped to check out maybe half the websites while they were reading and some went back later and checked out more. The group was so positive about this addition that the second novel in the series, which I am now editing, will certainly have links as well. Lola, the hero of the first novel, tended towards classic rock and roll. The second novel centers around Lola’s twenty-something son. His life and his tastes are different, so a reader can look forward to websites about sailing, the South Pacific and a fair amount of electronic dance music.

Summary of x0:
Somewhere between the world one knows and fanciful places is the universe of x0. Here, seven billion people lead normal lives and seven hundred or so do not. This latter group includes Lola, a Texan geophysicist who doesn’t believe in nonsense, and Somadina, a young Nigerian who thinks her abilities are perfectly normal. These women have at least two important things in common, and that much can forge a powerful link.

When Somadina’s sister becomes a captive, the young Igbo woman draws upon her power to find an ally. Too bad it turns out to be only this distant American woman who insists on ignoring her.

When an unexpected lay-off and a near fatal accident combine to reintroduce into Lola’s mind a rather disturbing phenomenon, Lola tries ignoring it. Medicating it. Analyzing it. However, it keeps getting worse.

Once Somadina accepts that her sister has become a strategic pawn in a much larger and more dangerous game, she knows that she must do anything to get the attention of this kindred, uncooperative lady.

x0 reluctantly emerges from the shadows, only because somebody really needs to step in here. Both women are far more powerful than they realize, and to make matters worse, a fringe fanatic may be on the verge of altering history.

Author's note: This work of speculative fiction is the first book in a series of six involving super powers and various cultures from around the world. Some of the hero's everyday life was inspired by my own work in the oil industry, and much of my knowledge about and appreciation for Nigerians came from my co-workers and friends in real life. The book can be found at , or find it at smashwords.comwhere it can be purchased in formats for Nook, one for any Apple product, and those for several other reading devices. Finally, if you want to sample much of the book for free, read chapters one through ten on the website Worthy of Publishingand leave comments for me.
Also please visit my blog at

Sherrie Roth grew up in Western Kansas thinking that there was no place in the universe more fascinating than outer space. After her mother vetoed astronaut as a career ambition, she went on to attended Northwestern University studying journalism and physics in hopes of becoming a science writer.

She published her first science fiction short story in the November 1979 issue of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. Unfortunately, when inspiration arrived for the next story, it declared to her that it had to be whole book, nothing less. One night, while digesting this disturbing piece of news, she drank way too many shots of ouzo with her boyfriend. She woke up thirty-one years later demanding to know what was going on.

The boyfriend, who she had apparently long since married, asked her to please calm down. He explained that in a fit of practicality she had gone back to school and gotten a degree in geophysics and had spent the last 28 years interpreting seismic data in the oil industry. The good news, according to Mr. Cronin, was that she had found it at least mildly entertaining and ridiculously well paying. The bad news was that the two of them had still managed to spend almost all of the money.

Apparently, she was now Mrs. Cronin, and the further good news was that they had produced three wonderful children whom they loved dearly, even though to be honest that is where a lot of the money had gone. Even better news was that Mr. Cronin turned out to be a warm-hearted, encouraging sort who was happy to see her awake and ready to write. "It's about time," were his exact words.

Sherrie Cronin discovered that over the ensuing decades Sally Ride had already managed to become the first woman in space and apparently had done a fine job of it. Others had gone on to get Sherrie's second dream job as science writers and many of them wrote wonderful articles that Sherrie enjoyed.

No one, however, had written the book that had been in Sherrie's head for decades. The only problem was, the book informed her sternly that it had now grown into a six book series. Sherrie decided that she better start writing it before it got any longer. She has been wide awake ever since, and writing away.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Good Luck, Kaye George!

As some of you know, our fabulous mystery writer in residence, Kaye George, has been nominated for Best New Novel at the Malice Domestic convention. It is taking place this week and we are sending warm and fuzzy thoughts Kaye's way! The nomination is for her outstanding mystery, Choke. If you haven't read it yet, what are you waiting for? Yes, it's a mystery, but it's also pretty hilarious, too! Click on the link to the right hand side to purchase this great novel!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

5 Reasons Bad Book Reviews Can Be a Good Thing

Don't forget to vote for All Things Writing at Goodreads for the Blogger Award. Click on the link at the top left hand side of this page to vote!

Nobody likes rejection, especially authors. All you have to do is Google the words author or rejection and tons of blog posts on the subject will pop up. Heck, we even have a few back posts at All Things Writing that cover the art of rejection, too!

Unfortunately, even after you publish your book, the possibility of rejection doesn't end. The difference is that now you have to deal with reader rejection vs agent/publisher rejection. Readers are pretty good at letting an author know exactly how they feel about what they've read. They aren't always as polite as agents and publishers are either. In fact, some rejections make you long for the good old form letter you used to get that started with: We're sorry, but this manuscript just isn't for us.

Regardless, everything is a learning opportunity. Some readers just like to criticize, and some are honestly confused about things in the story. As an author, you have to learn to deal with these kinds of reviews and perhaps even grow as a writer from them. If you've just published something and have gotten a bad review, consider these five tips to help you get over it!

1. Maybe the reader doesn't normally read your genre. Hey, it happens. Some readers try out new genres because the book is part of the latest trend. That doesn't mean it's going to be their cup of tea. Some styles just don't work for everyone. For example, I like mysteries but not hard core ones. I'd rather read a Janet Evanovich than Sue Grafton book any day, but that's because I prefer one style over the other.

2. Your book cover is misleading. This one comes from personal experience for me! If your book cover hints at one genre, but then turns out to be another, sometimes that makes for confused or even angry readers. Nephilim looks like a bodice ripper, but is actually an urban fantasy with little romance. I recently had a reviewer call it porn for grannies because nothing sexual really happens in it. I can see the reviewer's point. If romance is your thing and you buy my book based on the steamy cover, you will be disappointed. The moral of this story: always make sure your book cover represents your book!

3. The reviewer just read a similar book with a similar concept. You can't predict what is going on in that reader's life. If they just read a book like yours, the comparison is bound to be in their mind. If they preferred the other book, look at the reasons they've listed as to why. Maybe there is something of value you can take from that, something that can strengthen your next manuscript!

4. A bad review can put you in your place. We all get a little full of ourselves and no one writer is perfect.( Except for Harper Lee, which is why I think she only wrote one book. Hey, when you get it right, you get it right!) Criticism hurts but it can make you face reality, too.

5. Reading tough reviews make you appreciate the good ones. Someone took the time to read your work. Maybe they even paid for it (gasp!). For everyone person who hates your writing, there's a few more that love it. Remember that!

You can't please them all and some people just enjoy being rude. However, don't brush off a bad review of your book just because it's negative. Try to turn it into something positive that you can learn from!

Happy Writing!

Oh, by the way, my new YA comes out in June. However, you can register to get an advance copy at my Goodreads Giveaway. Here's the link! Bayou Myth Giveaway

Monday, April 16, 2012

So what if you do vote for us?

What happens if we win? 

One of us gets a trip to the BookExpo American (BEA) in New York, June 5, 2012 - June 7, 2012. We will arm wrestle to see which one goes. Everyone reading here is welcome to watch the match. We're undecided on whether we'll enhance the process with jello or mud. Mary Ann and I assume Steve will not want to go since he travels on business occasionally already.

The blog winner gets round trip coach air transportation for one (1) person from the major airport nearest winner’s residence, three (3) night hotel accommodations (standard double occupancy) and a complimentary badge for BookExpo America 2012. Sweet, eh?

While at the BookExpo, we promise to take notes and pictures. A sample of featured exhibitors:

American Psychological Association, which, as they state, "is the premier source for information in psychology. Information is delivered through our expansive collection of books, journals, electronic products, newsletters and website." All writers need this kind of stuff!

Baker & Taylor, the company through which most of your books come. A better understanding of this process can only help. I mean, what exactly IS an aggregator?

Information Today, who will show us how to create Great Customer Connections. I'm sure you want that!

"WaveCloud will bring authors and readers together in new, collaborative ways by removing the existing barriers between writers and their audiences and enabling a stronger, more direct relationship between them." I'm sure what this means, but I'd like to find out about those barriers.

Some awesome authors will be there, too. It could only help to be breathing the same air as Lee Child, Barbara Kingsolver, Debbie Macomber, and Kirstie Alley. Wait, Kirstie Alley? She's listed as an author, but I can't find a book by her. I guess I have to go see what that's all about.

It all sounds fun, fun, fun! Take some time out from doing your taxes and VOTE!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Voting Time!

No, the elections aren't for awhile yet. And the next primary is a couple of weeks away. But there's voting going on right now anyway!

We at All Things Writing have entered our blog in a contest, through Goodreads, to win a trip to BookExpo America in June! All we ask is that you take a good look at the blog. If you like what you see, consider clicking the IBBA link at the left and give us a vote.

We don't promise to lower taxes (but remember to pay yours next week) or rebuild roads or fix the weather, but we do vow to keep bringing you topics we hope you get some good out of.

The blog has recently expanded to include guest bloggers and we have a bunch of them lined up, writers in varied genres, but all with something interesting to say.

Voting goes from April 10th to 23rd--vote now!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Renew Yourself, Your Writing--Anything Else?

It's time for rebirth observances, Passover, Easter, Spring Equinox. It's also, just awhile ago, the Buddhist New Year, Songkran. Baha'i's holiest days, Ridvan, are next month. Just about everyone celebrates spring and the regrowth and renewal it brings. How can you help it? Winter is over and the earth is clothing itself in blossoms and greenery. Animals are mating and new spring lambs gambol in their pastures.

So why do we in the States start a new year in January? I've often wondered about that! I usually do make a list of my goals for the year then, and evaluate what I've gotten done in the previous calendar period of twelve months.

I prefer to set myself goals instead of resolutions. Goals are something I can reach for, go toward. Resolutions are so…resolute.

This is a good time, though, to reassess. How am I doing on my goals? Have I completely ignored some of them so far? Well, yeah. I'm doing well on some others, to make up for that. (Maybe I set too many goals.)

Life has intervened these last few weeks, too. We've learned that we're moving in June, which brings me an entire new list of goals--most of them completely unrelated to writing. This last week I spend hours making sure I had the data I wanted off three (I know, three) old computers and taking them to Goodwill. If we weren't moving, they'd still be sitting here. I do still have 3 computers left, so don’t feel sorry for me.

But I'll go through my writing goals again now and renew my push in the areas I'm falling behind in. It's a good time of year to do that. It just feels right.

NOTE: For something new, we're entered in a blog contest and you can vote for us with the button on the left!

 A Romney shiquolt and lambs

Friday, April 6, 2012

5 Reasons to Join a Blog Hop

In honor of Easter, All Things Writing joined a blog hop this week. I liked the idea of "hopping" like a cute little bunny from site to site, gathering information. Of course, I'm the first to admit that I'm not as cute or cuddly as a bunny (I'm damn close though) and no part of my body was physically involved in the actual hopping (thank God).

According to Laura Newton ,the Water Filter Lady  "a blog hop is a linky list that is SHARED ON MULTIPLE BLOGS. When several blogs put the same linky list code on their blog, the exact same list appears on each blog. Blog visitors can submit their entries on any blog that contains the list. The entries will appear on each blog where the list resides.Blog readers see the same list on each blog, and can "HOP" from blog to blog seeing the same list of links to follow: BLOG HOP!"

Why would you want to be a part of a blog hop?

1. It drives traffic to your website. Is there anything more satisfying for a blogger than to see your stats go up? And this new group of people hopping to your site will get to see the wonderful musings of your finely tuned brain. Conversely, they can also see what an idiot you are...

2. It's a good opportunity for you to make new connections. As writers we are always searching for new connections in our literary world that can help us right now or further down the road. By following other bloggers and hopping to their site, you "meet" other authors, see how they are handling fortune and glory, and act accordingly.

3. Great promotion opportunity! When people hop by, they can learn more about you and your work or about the people you choose to promote.

4. Spread forth your important idea. Got something that many need to hear? This is the time to do it. Put your big idea out during a blog hop so that more people can see it, share it, or rip it apart. For example, you may have noticed that All Things Writing is entered in the Blog Awards at Goodreads. I expect you all to get over there and vote for us on April 10.

5. This is your chance to try something new in the blogsphere. Maybe blogging is new to you. Maybe you haven't been sure about how to attempt a blog hop before. Perhaps you didn't know how to get more traffic to your site. Go for it! By putting yourself out there, you are giving yourself a chance to hone your skills and gain confidence.

Feel free to join our blog hop, too! We'd love to learn more about you and your site. But hurry! The hop ends today.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hosting an Online Book Tour--Welcome Innovative Online Book Tours

Last week I blogged about how successful my virtual book tour was for Nephilim. As fate would have it, All Things Writing is now going to be a host for Innovative Online Book Tours. What this means for our faithful readers is that in addition to the crazy ramblings of Kaye George, Steve Metze, and myself, you will also be getting access to new author interviews, book reviews, and guest bloggers who represent a wide variety of genres. Also, for the next day or two, you can follow the Blog hop going on and check out lots of other great blogs. Just click on the link to the right of this page.

 Yep, they sure have a pretty banner don't they? But just who is IO Book Tours? What can they offer an eager author who wants to promote but can't afford a publicist? Here's the direct quote from their website:

Are you an Indy writer, a newer author or and established author just looking for a new way to market your book? Maybe you are self published? Or you desire to participate more actively in promoting your work? Enjoy the excitement of readers experiencing your book for the first time while we do the promotion piece for you.

Why Innovative? We bring our deep enjoyment of books and a passion for the written word to promotion. We appreciate that this world is a melting pot of diverse people with a variety of interests in many genres and styles. We endeavor to accommodate both you and your readers in every way possible.

Innovative online blog tours offers you an easy friendly way to promote your book and meet your readers without traveling the country. Not only will we promote your book by getting reviews posted on assorted blogs but we also strongly encourage all of our blogging partners to post reviews on Goodreads, Amazon and B&N. Another unique tool we offer is a click-able Link to purchase your book at many of the main retailers including Amazon, B&N, and any other you may be utilizing. We offer a variety of packages for you to choose from and are excited partner with you in promoting your book.

Curious about their pricing and who else is hosting book tours for them? Click on their link to find out more information! INNOVATIVE ONLINE BOOK TOURS

Monday, April 2, 2012

Writing a great blog interview

[If you like this blog, please consider voting for us with the button to your left. Enter your own blog, too, if you'd like!]

When someone asks if they can interview you for their blog, it's a great feeling! Even if you have to ask someone for an interview, when they say yes, you know you're going to get some cyber space and time. Get your name out there, get know, and maybe sell some books or stories.

But after you've done four or five or six interviews, you may notice some recurring questions. Some are necessary, or course, but there are those that a writer gets tired of answering. There are some questions that we get asked over and over that we really can't answer!

Like~~Where do your ideas come from? I've honestly tried to answer that over and over. I've spent time trying to actually figure it out. But, for the life of St. Lucia (according to some sources, the patron saint of writers), I do not know how ideas, characters, and plots jump out of my head and onto my computer screen. It's as magic for me as electricity (which I freely admit I don't understand a bit). I know that people want to know the answer, but I don't think there is one.

Another question that stumps me is~~What is your writing process? I'm not sure what it means, first of all. I don't think I have a process, I just write. Sometimes I write in the morning, but more often late at night, as I'm doing now, pounding out this blog for tomorrow morning. I work well under pressure. Or maybe I should say I work under pressure. No pressure, no work oftentimes. That's why I'm careful to apply pressure to myself often. I give myself deadlines and set up goals that I try to reach. If the goals and deadlines are set by other people, though, they work a lot better.

Maybe the process question means~~Do I plot things out or do I just start writing? The answer to that is, both. For a short story I'll often get the idea fully formed and just set it down as it came to me. For a novel, I have to have a sketch of my main plot points, and for mysteries, I have to have figured out pretty much who did the crime and why. But how the sleuth solves the case is sometimes revealed to me later, as things unfold. Maybe as my material gets~~processed?

My best interviewers have read (and liked) my work. I love to answer questions about the books and stories I've written. One big help for interviews is to keep track of the answers that you've given. It doesn't hurt to have some stock answers to stock questions. Saves time if you put them down somewhere, and know where to find them for your next interview. I wish I knew who had suggested this to me, but I can't find it. Maybe it's with those stock answers that I stuck somewhere.

To be honest, I haven't had any bad interviews. I can imagine a bad one, with boring questions, or with the same questions for each interviewee. But even the ones that do that have a list of many good questions that the interviewee can pick from, so the interviews don't turn out all the same--not boring at all.

I'd like to hear what you think makes a good or a bad interview!